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Posted on: March 5, 2019

Is Your House Number Visible from the Street



Your address number can be the difference between life and death. House numbers can greatly assist fire-fighters or paramedics in arriving on time in times of emergency. Fires, crimes, or accidents in your home or the roads outside will all require the speedy arrival of emergency workers.

In an emergency, Wexford Volunteer Fire Company, the Northern Regional Police Department and McCandless Franklin Park Ambulance Authority depend on your house numbers to find you as quickly as possible. Finding your home, especially at night, can be challenging if address numbers are unreadable, hidden, unlighted or have missing numbers.  By not having readable numbers, this could delay first responders in getting to you quickly. If you can’t see your house numbers from the street, neither can first responders.

The following recommendations will ensure that your house number is placed where it can be seen by emergency responders, postal services, courier companies, and so on.

How to Display Your House Number

Placement :

  • The house number should be visible from the road or street in front of the property. As such, the house number sign should be placed on the side of the house that faces the road and visible from both directions of travel.
  • If the house is too far from the road or hidden from the street, the house number should be displayed on the mailbox.  Remember to mark your mailbox on both sides
  • If your mailbox isn’t in front of your house or near your driveway, post a house number sign in your yard or attach it to a visible post, fence or gate.
  • The house number, whether displayed on the house, mailbox, or post, should be unobstructed by objects such as tree limbs, bushes, debris, or decorations.
  • It is important to keep your address well lit. If your outside light is next to the door, but your address is over the garage, install a second light.
  • When it isn’t possible to place the house number near a light use a reflective house address sign.

Size :

  • House numbers should be big and bold. According to the International Building Code each number must be a minimum of 4 inches (102 mm) in height with a minimum stroke width of 1/2 inch (12.7 mm).
  • Always make sure you buy a sign that fits the post. Oversize signs are aesthetically unpleasing, and undersized signs are hard to read.


  • Use Arabic numerals. Writing numbers in words is prohibited.
  • Display numbers horizontally.
  • Repair or replace aging address numbers placards, sometimes with older homes or with the typical wear and tear from weather, numbers can become faded or detach from the house and/or mailbox. Make sure you have all your numbers listed. 

Color :

  • House numbers should be placed on contrasting background.  White numbers on a black background is an ideal combination of colors when displaying the number on the house or mailbox.
  • The color of the numbers should not blend in with the house in any way, shape or form. When it comes to numbers, it isn’t as much about fashion, it’s about the ability to see the numbers in case of an emergency.
  • Brass or bronze numbers should be avoided – they don’t offer optimum visibility at night.
  • Certain colors on reflective address number signs may glow too much under headlights, which can overshadow the number on the sign. This is a major cause of concern for emergency personnel.
  • When posting your address number or a sign on the mailbox, don’t use the same colors as the mailbox. Stickers with shiny silver numbers on a black background should be avoided, as well.

Remember, house numbers could be a lifesaver in case of an emergency, so you want to make sure you have them visible, large and in the right color!

 The newly adopted 2015 INTERNATIONAL BUILDING CODE® requires address identification numbers.

 501.2 Address identification. New and existing buildings shall be provided with approved address identification.  The address identification shall be legible and placed in a position that is visible from the street or road fronting the property.  Address identification characters shall contrast with their background.  Address numbers shall be Arabic numbers or alphabetical letters.  Numbers shall not be spelled out.  Each character shall be a minimum of 4 inches (102 mm) high with a minimum stroke width of ½ inch (12.7 mm).  Where required by the fire code official, address identification shall be provided in additional approved locations to facilitate emergency response.  Where access is by means of a private road and the building address cannot be viewed from the public way, a monument, pole or other sign or means shall be used to identify the structure.  Address identification shall be maintained.

Building Official Comments:

                The code requires buildings to have plainly visible and legible address numbers posted on the building or in such a place on the property that the building may be identified by emergency services, such as fire, medical and police.  The primary concern is that emergency forces should be able to locate the building without going through a lengthy search procedure.  In furthering the concept, the code states that the approved street numbers must be placed in a location readily visible from the street or roadway fronting the property if a sign on the building would not be visible from the street.  Address posting on a mailbox is not adequate for emergency responders when they are grouped or placed across the street from the dwelling.  This section also give the fire code official the authority to require address identification in other locations to facilitate emergency response. Easily legible numbers are essential for rapid response of emergency personnel.

Please call the Township of Pine Building Department at (724) 625-1636, extension 122 with any questions. Thank you for your assistance.

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