What To Do If You Ever Hear A 'Code Red' At Walmart

Imagine you are browsing through Walmart's hangar-like premises when the public address system pings to life, and a strained but calm voice echoes the words "code red, code red" throughout the building. What does it mean, and how do you respond to it?

The fact that the emergency is relayed in code as opposed to plain English suggests that it is intended for personnel but thanks to the media and our association of danger with the color red, the announcement "code red" alerts us to the fact that whatever is afoot is undesirable. According to Macmillan Dictionary, it speaks of the worst possible emergency status or imminent and close danger that constitutes exigent circumstances. 

Walmart is not the only organization that uses the term "code red." Many institutions use colors for identifying emergencies, per MedicineNet. While these colors can be yellow, blue, white, pink, brown, or green, the announcement, "code red," lends an air of gravity in almost any environment. Given the sizes of Walmart's stores and the hordes of shoppers they host daily, it seems only logical they employ this institution-grade emergency protocol.

What does Walmart's code red mean?

Walmart's different categories of intercom codes alert relevant staff to issues like accidents, staff breaks, customer service-related issues, security challenges, and even missing children, explains Common Cents Mom. But "code red" to Walmart staff means fire, according to Algrim

In case of a code red, the retail chain's staff automatically revert to emergency evacuation protocols to get all Walmart customers out of the store, per Bob Cut Mag. Your responsibility as a customer would be to navigate towards an exit while adhering to the directions from the assisting staff. At that point, every employee's efforts will likely focus on activities around evacuation.

However, code red is not Walmart's worst alarm, says Broken Secrets. Code black, for example, speaks of impending catastrophic weather, while white refers to an accident. The mass retail mart has contingencies for even more ominous scenarios with code blue designated as a bomb threat and its seemingly innocent code green — which is indicative of a hostage crisis.