News release

Clear Civic Number Signs Can Save Lives

NOTE: The following is a feature story about the Sign Up For Safety campaign to promote the use of civic number signs. A list of tips for posting a civic number follows this release.

Seconds can mean the difference between life and death in an emergency. That's why the province is urging Nova Scotians to clearly post their civic number, making it easier for police, firefighters and paramedics to find them as quickly as possible when trouble strikes.

"Posting your civic number can save your life or the life of a loved one," says Emergency Management Minister David Morse. "This is an important public safety initiative - one that will assist first responders in being able to quickly locate those in need of help."

First responders brought the need for a public awareness campaign to Emergency Management Office (EMO).

"The feedback we received from emergency responders was that they sometimes encountered difficulty finding people who had placed 911 calls, because the civic number wasn't easily visible from the road," says Mike Myette, EMO's director of emergency services and 911. "It's particularly a problem in rural and semi-rural communities, where homes are often set back far from the road."

Lack of clearly posted civic numbers is one of the most significant contributors to delays in emergency response, but it also one of the cheapest and easiest to fix, Myette says.

The Emergency Management Office wants to make that point clear with its Sign Up For Safety campaign, which includes television commercials running throughout the month of March. The campaign slogan says it all: We can't help you if we can't find you.

The civic signs considered the easiest to see are white numbers on a reflective blue background. As part of the Sign Up For Safety campaign, EMO has compiled a list of local suppliers of blue-and-white civic signs. The list is posted on the Emergency Management Office's website at www.gov.ns.ca/emo .

Chief Tom Bremner, president of the Fire Service Association of Nova Scotia, welcomes the campaign, saying it will help save lives.

"In times of emergency, seconds count," says Bremner, who is chief of Truro Fire Service. "One of the easiest and most effective ways people can ensure that emergency responders can find them quickly in an emergency is by making sure their civic number is easily visible from the road."

The Emergency Management Office is the provincial agency mandated to prepare citizens and the government of Nova Scotia for potential emergencies. EMO co-ordinates provincial resources during emergency response. The office also delivers Nova Scotia's 911 service, which handles about 170,000 calls for emergency assistance each year.

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Media Contact:

Jodi Sibley
Emergency Management Office 902-424-1906 Cell: 902-223-3857 E-mail:

Following is a list of tips for posting a civic number:

  • Use Arabic numerals, not Roman numerals or words – 12 not XII or Twelve
  • Post at least 1.2 metres (four feet) above the ground *
  • Colour of numbers should clearly contrast with the background
  • White numbers on a reflective blue background are best
  • Numbers should be easily read from the road when approaching from either direction
  • Sign posts should be within five metres (15 feet) of road *
  • On homes, numbers should be at least 100 millimetres (four inches) tall *
  • Bylaws may vary. Please check with your local municipality.