It takes less than a second to do but could save crucial moments in an emergency.

The simple act of sweeping the snow off your 911 address marker after a storm could make all the difference says Deputy Chief of Muskoka Paramedic Service Stuart McKinnon.

“In certain snow storms where 15 or 20 signs in a row are covered, it makes it really difficult to find specific addresses,” confirms McKinnon.

While GPS technology is an invaluable tool, when crews get close they are looking for those markers to turn into a driveway.

“We hate having to pass an address and then turn around and go back,” he says. “Because it’s minutes we really need in certain emergencies.”

McKinnon understands why people neglect the blue and white fluorescent signs, but he hopes giving them a nudge will build the habit.

“We’re all guilty of it when we shovel our driveways we just want to get that job done and go to warm up,” he concedes. “It takes two seconds to take one hand, or a broom  or a shovel and go across your 911 sign.”

He says it is something the first responders really notice while on shift.

“When the paramedics are driving through the community that is something they always notice is the 911 signs, regardless of the weather,” he says.

Another area of concern is keeping trees and shrubs from covering up the marker, from both sides.

He is also asking residents who do make a call for service to have outside lights on. If possible, especially at night, having someone stand near the street with a flashlight helps with getting to the address quicker.

McKinnon also advises that making some room in the driveway can help when a patient needs to be transported.

“If you are expecting an ambulance to arrive at your address, moving vehicles really helps,” McKinnon says.