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by Abigail Van Buren

Rescue Workers Left in Dark by Poorly Marked Addresses

DEAR ABBY: I am a police officer in a small but very busy community in New England. I would like to impress upon your readers the importance of having their address numbers clearly visible on their homes and businesses. On too many occasions, police, fire and rescue personnel have wasted precious time trying to find the exact location of an emergency because the homes and businesses in the area were poorly marked -- or not marked at all. This could mean the difference between life or death for the persons requiring assistance.

The numbers must be large enough to be seen from the roadway in all types of weather and lighting conditions. Their color must contrast sharply with their background. Put them directly on or immediately by the front door. If the structure is set too far back from the road, place the number at the entrance to the driveway. Make them large enough to be read from a moving vehicle. Individual apartment or condo doors should be clearly numbered or lettered as well. It is a wise investment that could save your life. -- PUBLIC SERVANT IN RHODE ISLAND

DEAR PUBLIC SERVANT: You have written an important letter, and I'm pleased to pass along your message. Address numbers should be posted on both sides of one's mailbox, or near a porch light so they're clearly visible at night. Do not allow hanging plants, overgrown shrubs or partially opened doors to obscure them.

Once 9-1-1 is called, if at all possible, station someone at the door or in the yard to guide the police, firefighters or emergency medical personnel in. It's also a good idea to give the 9-1-1 operator a brief description of the house. A 15-minute search for an address during an emergency can be the difference between life and death.