The Holidays have arrived! Time to make (or take out) your shopping list for your beloved family and friends. 

Shopping during the Christmas season is all about the mindset. 

Some call shopping this time of year a hassle or stressful and full of anxiety.

Others embrace and look forward to the festive busy stores. Meeting up with friends and starting the day with a visit to your favorite coffee/espresso stand - then with a hot (or cold) beverage in hand, it's off to the races.

I don’t know if I’m the only one who does this, I usually find myself making a “What if” plan when walking into a building.

This happens in my workplace, a grocery store, or a sporting event - my mind (I hate to admit this) is busy finding a solution -  if a dangerous situation occurs. 

I need to know where I would take my loved ones and myself if events around me become dangerous.

When shopping at the big nationally owned chain stores, like Walmart, Target, JC Penney’s, or Marshall's - you might hear the upbeat music pause with a store employee making an announcement, usually to other store employees.

In the event of an odd or dangerous circumstance, the emergency PA announcement - will involve a color code.

According to Common Cents Mom, they're used by employees of these stores to prepare themselves - while not causing panic for us shoppers.

Here’s what the color codes mean


A 'Code Brown' means there is a situation involving an active shooter.  It could also be a dangerous situation - not involving a gun. If you hear this announcement - drop what you’re doing, and look around, become observant, and listen for instructions.  The danger could be happening inside the store and sometimes outside the store.



A 'Code Green' is an active hostage situation, be observant and listen for instructions.



'Code Blue' means someone has called in a bomb threat - which is usually fake. Nonetheless, leave immediately and listen for any important instructions.



'Code Red' means there's a fire, and whether it's spreading rapidly or not, it's time to leave. The Wenatchee Target had this situation, back in June of 2022.



A 'Code Orange' is a chemical spill.  Listen for instructions on whether the chemical danger is inside or outside the store.



'Code White' is an accident of some kind in the store that isn't a direct danger to shoppers.



If you hear 'Code Black', that means we have super severe weather outside, and they will most likely receive instructions not to leave. The store might also close immediately because of the impending weather, forcing everyone to leave quickly and head home safely.


With most of the possible emergencies - It’s important to listen for instructions.

The above color-coded systems are used with many nationally owned stores.  However, some organizations may vary the codes. Also, these codes are often part of a broader emergency response plan that includes clear communication channels, training programs, and drills to ensure that individuals are prepared for various scenarios.


INFO: Common Sense Mom, KPQ

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