Will an emergency responder be able to find your address?

We all have municipal street addresses, and most residents have the numbers posted at their laneway. One reason for the expense was to enable emergency responders to find an address with more accuracy than something like "RR2".

But does it work in practice?

When a delivery person commented that his GPS had sent him 2-3 kms east of where I live, I investigated. Sure enough, entering my civic address in Google Maps placed it incorrectly; ditto with my GPS. Moreover, unless I entered the exact "official" street name, my GPS would not find my address at all. Rural addresses are notoriously inaccurate in the databases used by such products—and our ambulances and police cars may be relying on them to find you.
So what can you do about it?

First, go online to see if Google Maps and Bing Maps have your address in the right location. If you have a GPS (or can use a friend's GPS), enter the address in it to see if it is accurate as well. If these tools show your address accurately, emergency responders will probably be able to find you without a problem.

If the tools do not show your location accurately, use an online tool like Google Earth, or a GPS device to determine the latitude/longitude of your home—then write it down near your phone. That way, if you need to provide your address to an emergency responder (or even to a delivery company), you will have a more accurate location. Note: be prepared to explain that a GPS will not show your address accurately.

Need an example?

The address for the municipal offices is listed as "2024, Route 148, Pontiac (Luskville)", but that yields no meaningful result in Bing Maps, and a point about 2kms west in Google Maps. Most GPS devices will not understand the "city" name, so entering the address may not even be possible.

However, if someone were to enter the coordinates 45.5286, -76.0017 into their GPS, it would bring them directly to the municipal office front door.

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