When you're in a hospital, it's common to hear "codes" over the intercom. Raised by an orthopedic nurse, I spent quite a bit of time in a hospital but not as a patient, and I heard a lot of them.

"Code blue" may be the one most folks are familiar with. It usually means someone--not necessarily a patient--has gone into cardiac or respiratory arrest. Color codes are also used in non-medical facilities, too. Walmart, for example, has a long list of them. And while the colors might match up, they don't necessarily mean the same thing.

Like Hospitals, Walmart Also Employs Color Codes

Now, you might hear numerical codes over the Walmart intercom from time to time, but those are directed at specific departments. There are also LETTER codes, but those are for employee assistance.

So what ARE the Walmart codes, and what do they mean?


Code Red

This one is a universal code for fire, and at Walmart, it will be followed by a number indicating where the fire is located in the store.

Code White

You'll hear this if there's been an accident and one that usually involves an injury.

Code Orange

This code refers to a chemical spill somewhere in the store. It will also be followed by a number indicating the spill's location so that an employee can get there and clean it up.


Code Black

Walmart will issue this code in the event of severe weather in the area.

Code Brown

In a sad reflection of the times in which we live, this code has become quite necessary. When a code brown is issued, it means there is an active shooter on the premises. If you are unable to make it safely to an exit upon hearing it, employees will instruct you on what to do.


Code Green

This refers to an active hostage situation within the store. If you hear it, call the police if you can do so safely.

Code Blue

Those who work in hospitals might instinctively rush to assist if they hear this one, but in a Walmart store, it means there is a potential bomb threat present.


Since codes may mean different things at different locations, and because millions of people are inside Walmarts every single day, it's important to know the differences. They could save your life.

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