Cheap insurance – and more

| Joanne Cole, NGX | Want some cheap insurance in case of an emergency at your home?  Put 4-inch reflective house numbers on your house, mailbox, and the end of […]

The author’s mailbox sports a brand-new 5-inch reflective number. Coincidence? Not a chance.

| Joanne Cole, NGX |

Want some cheap insurance in case of an emergency at your home?  Put 4-inch reflective house numbers on your house, mailbox, and the end of your driveway!  Too many homes in New Gloucester lack easily visible house numbers, resulting in critical delays for emergency responders, according to New Gloucester’s Public Safety Committee.  House numbers are “very inexpensive,” says committee chair Nat Berry, yet Fire/Rescue may lose as much as ten or fifteen minutes on a call “because they can’t find the house.” 

NG Fire/Rescue Chief Toby Martin, liaison to the committee, echoes their concern.  When a house is on fire, flames help reveal the location.  But “80 to 90 percent of our calls” are non-fire emergencies without such visible clues, he says.  Faced with a long unmarked driveway, responders must take the time to drive down in hopes they have the right house.  Alternatively, they might proceed along the road until they reach a numbered house, only to wind up having to double back.  Chief Martin describes seeing “waving arms in the rearview mirror” after responders have unavoidably overshot the house. 

House numbers are not only a sensible precaution; they’re required by town ordinance.  Under the ordinance, house numbers must be at least 4” in height, reflective or contrasting, and visible by flashlight.  If the house is more than 50 feet from the road, numbers must also be put on a post, fence, wall, or mailbox out by the driveway or walkway. 

Numbers need to be visible in all seasons, not obscured by snow or leaves.  Consider putting numbers on both sides of your mailbox, not just the mail delivery side.  And while you’re at it, the postal service would appreciate your putting your name on the inside door of your mailbox, given ever-changing delivery personnel.

Violations of the town’s house numbering ordinance carry a possible $50 per day fine, but so far the town has preferred to approach the issue “as an educational matter, not through enforcement,” Berry says.  What’s cheaper than a fine?  Buying house numbers.  Adhesive 4-inch reflective house numbers will set you back less than $2 a pop, according to a quick unscientific survey of local big-box and hardware stores. 

Along with house numbering, the Public Safety Committee would like the community to keep an eye on streetlights.  Chair Berry recalls a nighttime cruise around New Gloucester when committee members discovered that six or seven of the town’s 35 or so streetlights weren’t working, including at dangerous intersections.  If you notice a streetlight is out, please call the Town Office; they’ll get in touch with CMP.       

Finally, speeding vehicles are a problem “in the whole town,” says Berry, but especially up and down Route 231.  The committee and the town work with State Police and the county sheriff’s office about patrolling and enforcement, but everyone would probably prefer that drivers—including residents—simply obey posted limits.

Looking ahead, with hunting season on the horizon, the Public Safety Committee hopes to organize a special visit by Corporal John MacDonald of the Maine Warden Service.  Watch the town calendar for a date in late October, says Nat Berry.  And, Berry adds, please consider serving the community by joining the Public Safety Committee.  Clearly, it’s important work, and it’s easy to apply and get appointed

But first, put up your house numbers.       

Looks like there were numbers on this mailbox at one time