If You Ever Hear A 'Code Brown' While Shopping, Leave The Store Immediately

By Dave Basner

May 24, 2024

While shopping, you might hear a familiar request over the loudspeaker about a cleanup needed in an aisle or assistance required up front, but there might be another announcement that you don't recognize. If during your shopping trip, you hear someone announce a "Code Brown" over the intercom, it's in your best interest to leave your cart where it is and get out of the store immediately.

Not all announcements are straightforward and on some rare occasions, employees use secret codes in the bulletins they make on the loudspeaker. Typically, only their co-workers know what the phrases signify, but some staff members have revealed their meaning. According to a thread on Quora, there are a fair amount of secret codes and one Walmart associate shared the ones they are aware of, starting with a "Code Brown," which would be heard when there has been a violent act at the store. The "Code Brown" is often followed by instructions, but unless it is unsafe to leave, your best option is likely going to be to just leave and get some distance.

Brown isn't the only color code you might hear, though no matter the color, chances are you'll still want to leave. A "Code Blue" is a bomb threat, a "Code Red" is a fire, a "Code Orange" signifies a chemical spill, "Code White" is an accident of some kind in the store, and a "Code Green" is an active hostage situation. There is one color code when you probably shouldn't leave and that's "Code Black," which indicates severe weather outside.

Not all codes are color-based either. "Code Adam" alerts associates that a child in the store is missing. It is named after six-year-old Adam Walsh, who in 1981 was abducted from a Florida Sears. There is also a "Code 300" or "Code 99," followed by a location, which is a request for security in that area.

Keep in mind though, there are also codes that don't reflect any danger and are just easier ways for employees to communicate. "Code 10" is a wet spill," "Code 20" is a dry spill, "Code Spark" means more cashiers are needed up front, "Code 50" means shopping carts need to be gathered from the parking lot, "Code 1" is for a shoplifter and "Code C" just means a customer needs assistance.

The most important thing to remember is that if you do hear a coded announcement, never panic since that won't help anyone.

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