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If you've spent anytime on Facebook or Instagram watching Reels, you've probably seen videos of some of the chaos going on in our society. We're all all too familiar with stories of school shootings, smash and grab robberies, or attacks at gas stations or convenience stores.  So if you're shopping at Target, Lowe's or Walmart, or other big box stores, and hear overhead announcements, you probably don't pay a lot of attention to them.  But maybe you should.

According to a recent story from Common Cents Mom, major retailers have trained their employees to be prepared for emergency situations that may arise, while not causing panic to customers.  So instead of "shouting fire," stores will use coded messages to alert employees of a particular, possibly dangerous, situation.

Here's a List of Coded Emergency Messages

Code White – This code means an accident (such as an injury) or another type of incident has happened within the store, but doesn't necessarily mean a danger to customers.

Code Red – This one is pretty universal. 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.

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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 – We've all heard Code Blue in medical shows, usually meaning a patient has 'crashed'.  But in the retail environment, this code means that there is a potential bomb threat happening in the store.

Six People Killed In Shooting At Walmart In Chesapeake, Virginia
Photo by Nathan Howard/Getty Images

We've all gotten Amber alerts on our phones. That was named after Amber Hagerman, who was abducted back in 1996.  But if you hear "Code Adam" inside a big box store, it means a child has gotten lost or is missing.  Code Adam is so named after Adam Walsh, the six year old son of John Walsh, the host of "America's Most Wanted."  Adam was abducted from a Sears store in Florida in 1981, and was never seen again.

So the next overhead announcement you hear at your favorite store, it just might mean more than there's a "clean up on aisle six."

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