Why should house numbers be easy to see both day and night?

Visible house numbers at night help the emergency services find you.

Is Your Number Up?

not a house number in site, how will the ambulance find patient

Parking for ambulance, but no house numbers , maybe it's up to the patient to find the ambulance. 

This is what your house number should look like at night
your house number should look like this at night

Can we see your house number?

Sat-navs  help but not being able to see a  number clearly from the roadside could result in delays reaching people

Sat-navs  help but not being able to see a  number clearly from the road could result in delays reaching people.

Post codes often contain multiple house numbers.

There is a lot to be said about the importance of a house number looking good. However, house numbers are especially important for another reason. Locating our home in an emergency.

The crews in emergency vehicles are often frustrated (especially at night) by people who don't display easy-to-read house numbers on their homes. This may cause a delay in reaching the patient as the crew struggles to locate the incident address and find house numbers along a residential road.


There may come a time when we need the fire service, ambulance or police, they need to know where we are so they can get to us quickly.

We give our house number and postcode to the operator, but what use is it if they can't see the number, it's invisible?


The various campaigns run by the emergency services over the years like the "999 where are you" one featured on this website have helped create awareness. However! it is still happening. The emergency services will tell you that life-threatening time is still being wasted looking for your house numbers, especially at night.


Whinging about poor response times is one thing, helping reduce them by doing something as simple as making our homes easy to find, especially at night really helps.


In a medical emergency, every second counts. It can literally be a life or death situation.

Drive down your road as fast as you safely can within the speed limit (don't break the law or you may inadvertently be the one wasting the emergency services time), to see the problem for yourself, ask your passenger to count how many house numbers you cant see.

The police, ambulance and fire services will tell you how widespread the problem still is and how much time is wasted and what the response from some members of the public has been.


The response to the various campaigns has been mostly positive.


These responses to an awareness campaign could be seen as funny if they weren't so thick!     There real too!


  • They know where i live, they are here often enough.
  • They  have got my postcode. (most post codes have multiple households  within)
  • Neighbours down the road gotta number, they can work it out from there.
  • The council should pay for one.
  • It's only a few seconds, who cares.
  • If they stop outside my gate and look through the gap  in the hedge they can see mine.
  • The warden knows which flat my mother is in.
  • I'll be out in the road waving (not if you have had a heart attack you wont)

                                                                                                                                                                                       Oh well.

So whats the best type of house number?


  • There is no point in having a tiny little number that can only be seen when you are already at the front door. The number needs to be big enough to be clearly visible from the road, especially if you have a long path or driveway leading up to your front door. If the house sign is not made from high spec. reflective or glow material then it’s going to be even more difficult to see if it’s not big enough. Stand on the pavement or just outside the front gate and look, if you cant see it no one else can. 
  • The larger the numbers, the better. Standing 6 feet away, 1″ letters may seem just fine to you. But when an ambulance is rushing in at night to help a heart attack victim, 1″ letters are extremely difficult to see. A minimum of a 3″ reflective block-style (not script – too hard to read quickly) letter is recommended.


Where to fit it.

  • The best place to fit  your house sign is somewhere level with the eye near to the front door.
  • If you  have a long driveway or pathway , the best place  would be roadside on both sides of a gate post,  pillar or  a numbered letter box, (one facing up the road the 2nd facing down the road) 
  • If you live on a through street, an emergency vehicle could approach from either side, so number both sides of the pillar or gate post.


What Colour is best. 

  • The colour of the digit should contrast with the plaque colour.
  • Reflective numbers work best white on black.
  • Non reflective white on black.
  • Glowing numbers  yellow-green is the glow colour most readily seen by the human eye and is therefore considered the most visible for glow in the dark house numbers. 

I can’t stress the importance of being visible to the emergency services who work tirelessly to save lives every day. We could write about it, promote it and moan about it until the cows come home but seriously, help make their job easier by getting your house number sorted.


I'm a paramedic and it drives me (and my colleagues) nuts how some properties are all but hidden when you are trying to find them.

I lost several minutes last night responding to a 999 trying to find one property where it, and its neighbours, had no numbers visible from the road. Owners either don't think about it, or don't care, that the emergency services cannot find their property quickly when someone might be dying.

Thanks for your post (name and address supplied).

Who else benefits from a visible house number?

Who else is going nuts wasting time looking for your home and would benefit from an easily found house number.

All Tradesmen (most of them are self employed and to whom time means money)  electric meter readers, the gas board, and the poorly paid Amazon delivery man  all need to find you quickly, or turn an eight hour working day into a lot longer.  Most are too polite and well trained to tell you to your face, SO here are a few. Real Responses to this article

  • I work for a utility company and have the same issue its a real problem, sometimes adds about 2 hours to my day and puts each job back a bit as the day goes on creating an atmosphere  when I ring the door bell late.  When I say "couldn't  find your number"  get a puzzled look and  ohh.
  • The best is house no's yet one owner decides to give house a name instead and will not give the no. So you have to drive up and down like a nutter instead of them just telling you it's really no. 8  Removing the number from your house and giving it a name instead, is the preserve of utter fking bd st-faced s.
  • My dad owned a business that had some delivery vehicles, and I used to work for him occasional weekends. Delivery driving is hard enough without some pathetic toss-pot suddenly getting ideas above their station, and thinking that having a house with a number is below them, and giving it a stupid name. I've had many, many daft people absolutely refusing to give me a number claiming '"it doesn't have one" when it clearly used to, and then you are left trying to find a house with a name on a housing estate of 200 houses. On several occasions I've just given up and phoned the customer telling them to come to the shop and pick their own stuff up.
  • I just discovered that a piece of mail was delivered to our house by mistake. I decided to drop it off on the nearby street. Nearly all of the houses there did not have visible numbers, either on the curb or on the house.
    Now, this isn't an emergency, but what if it were? Someday it might cost precious time if an ambulance, etc. couldn't find your home.
    To quote Jean-Luc Picard, if your house number's not visible, including at night: "Make it so."
  • There are plenty of houses that don't even have visible numbers in broad daylight.
    I work at people's homes. At least once a week I end up driving up and down a street finding the correct number by process of elimination. They always have a good excuse why they have no street number, post fell down, they took the numbers off the house when they were painting etc. It's certainly not my job to enforce house numbers but when I return 5 years later to the same excuse I want to slap them. Put a number on your house already and keep it there. They get no break on my hourly rate for time spent finding their unidentified home.
  • Our house is nearly 100 yards from the road, and the mailbox by the road doesn't have any number either. Ambulances have never had a problem finding the house. Come to think of it, very few houses in town are clearly labeled.
  • Speaking as a supervisor in a 9-1-1 center.... you would be so very wrong. And even if we know where you are that doesn't mean the ambulance can find you quickly when time is of the essence. That is why part of our standard instructions to callers, when possible, is to have someone wait out on the street to wave the emergency services into the correct home. Ambulances, police, and even fire trucks can have a hard time finding the right location. Happens all day, every single day.
  • Looks like it is a legal requirement to have a house number http://www.legislation.gov.uk/ukpga/Vict/10-11/34/...




Number of Digits
House number reqd

Ask yourself these questions.

 Borrowed from the Dorset police campaign

  • “Is my property readily identifiable?”
  • “Could a member of the emergency services find my property quickly in the dark?”
  • “Is my house number easy to read from the road?"

Glow in the dark

Number of Digits
House number reqd