There are a lot of systems and services that use color coding as an easy way to keep things straight.

Underground digging uses colors like yellow (gas line) or green (sewage line).

Printers use color codes for project coordination. Plumbers use color codes to help them identify what liquid (or gas) is running through a certain line. Even street signs use a certain color code to convey meaning (red is always stop!).

And hospitals have their own color codes for urgent times (pink is an infant abduction, yellow is a bomb threat).

But did you know that retailers nationwide use a color code in case of emergency in stores or restaurants?

If you hear the overhead speaker announce a specific color code, they are trying to convey a message to the store/restaurant personnel without causing a panic among the customers.

Here's a quick and easy guide (from

  • Code White – This code means an accident (such as an injury) or another type of incident has happened within the store.
  • Code Red – This code means there is a fire of some type within the store. After the color is spoken, it’s usually followed by a number. This number refers to the aisle or part of the store where the fire has broken out.
  • Code Orange – This code pertains to a chemical spill in some location inside or outside. After the color has been spoken, the location of the chemical spill is also given. Employees who are free at the time of the announcement must help take care of the spill.
  • Code Black – This code comes about when there is dangerous and severe weather in the area.
  • Code Brown – When you hear this code, it means that there is a shooter on the premises. This indicates it’s time to head to an exit, if you can. If you’re not near an exit, make sure to follow employee instructions and remain calm.
  • Code Green – This code means that there is an active hostage situation taking place. If you can do it safely, call the police and request help. Remain as calm as possible and ensure you’re in a safe area of the store.
  • Code Blue – This code means that there is a potential bomb threat happening in the store.

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