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15 Secret Emergency Codes You’re Not Supposed To Know About

15 Secret Emergency Codes You’re Not Supposed To Know About

Secret emergency codes are a part of many professions and are used for various purposes. Code words used by military, healthcare professionals, aviation staff members, police are usually kept hidden so that they can control emergency situations easily.

Almost all the professions have their own terminology, but the emergency secret codes are far beyond this approach. Sometimes they are used by staff members to announce an emergency, whether it’s hijacking of an airplane, and an announcement about a suspicious person in the store or a missing child, there are secret codes for almost everything. And it doesn’t necessarily mean that you will be informed about these codes.

There are some secret codes you aren’t meant to know. The reason is that if you decode these codes, you will come to know about what’s going on and there are chances that you will overreact and spoil the protocol designed by the authorities to keep a situation under control.

Some retail stores like Walmart have their own list of secret emergency codes, while doctors, pilots, sailors, police and even truckers follow some of the more universally accepted emergency codes.

This list of 15 secret emergency codes will help you understand the meaning of each code and once you learn them, you’ll be able to get an idea of the many behind the scenes activities performed during different situations. There is a chance you’ll never wish to hear codes like “Time Check” or “7500.” Why? Well read on to find out. 

15. Code 7500 & other secret emergency codes used by pilots


We all know that “Mayday” is an emergency code word used as a signal of distress. The call is given three times in a row to avoid any misunderstanding caused due to similar sounding words or phrases. The way aviators use it is “Mayday, Mayday, Mayday.” In place of Mayday, some aviators also use the code “declaring emergency” which is obviously an emergency call.

But if you hear your pilot say “7500,” it means that your plane has been hijacked or is threatened with a possible hijacking. It is a way to silently alert the ATC about the hijacking without informing unauthorized persons, including the hijackers. Other than the emergency code “7500,” code “7700” is used as a general emergency signal, and to inform ATC about a radio failure pilots use the code “7600.”

14. Different codes used by the US police


The United States Police Department follows many secret codes to convey messages about different situations. The codes are kept secret for obvious reasons, as the police doesn’t want any interruption from civilians.

If you hear a policeman saying “10-10,” it means that a fight is in progress. The code “10-15” indicates a civil disturbance. The code “10-31” means that a crime is in progress, while “10-32” alerts fellow policemen about a person with a gun.

At the times of riots, police use the “10-34” emergency code, and to announce a major crime alert, the US police uses the code “10-35.” If the police suspects suspicious activity in your vehicle, they will use the code “10-37.” If they find a dead animal the announcement you will hear include the code “10-45.”

To alert others about a traffic accident, the code “10-50” is used and when the police find an intoxicated driver, they used the code “10-55.” For intoxicated pedestrians, the US police has a different code, which is “10-56.”

The police uses “10-70” as a fire alarm and the code “10-89” and “10-98” you will never want to hear because the first represents a bomb threat and the latter is an alert about a prisoner escape.

13. Code Adam: when a child is missing


Six-year old Adam Walsh was abducted from a department store in Florida in 1981. He was the son of the Fox’s America’s Most Wanted show host John Walsh. After realizing that Adam was missing, his family searched for him frantically. But when they failed to find him, they reported him missing to local law enforcement. Unfortunately, the child was never found. Reports claim that Adam was murdered and his head was found in a canal, but many forensic experts still doubt whether it was Adam’s head or not.

In the memory of Adam Walsh, Walmart retail stores created a missing child safety program and “Code Adam” is now a standard code word used by authorities to make an announcement when a child goes missing.

12. Code Oscar: when someone’s overboard


“Code Oscar” is used in the cruising industry to alert everyone about someone falling overboard. The distress signal is given by saying “Code Oscar, Code Oscar, Code Oscar.” The code word is followed by all the necessary details including the directions that point to the location of the person and the side from where the person fell down.

After the code signal, the speed of the vessel needs to be reduced and the crew is required to make all the necessary arrangements to bring the person back. Informing nearby ships about the same is also a part of the process.

11. Time Check: there’s a bomb


You’re in a store and the staff suddenly announces a bomb threat with the secret emergency code “Time Check.” It is a clear indication that there is a bomb in the store or that someone has threatened the store. When you hear “Time Check,” it means that you should vacate the place instantly. But if you are a staff member, you are expected to locate the bomb rather than vacate the place.

That’s scary! Isn’t it? Well, it is not mandatory, of course. But store employees can expect their managers asking, “Hey! I don’t see any bomb here, can you please find it?” Sounds insane, right?

10. Doctor Brown: violence alert in hospitals


On Google, you will find many Doctor Brown profiles offering you their services. But if you hear these words in a hospital, it means that there’s an emergency alert. The secret emergency code “Doctor Brown” is often used to alert security staff about a threat to someone.

If a patient or a non-staff member is violent, the doctors, nurses and attendants can release an alert by using the emergency code “Doctor Brown.” The security staff and other personnel will rush to help. The emergency codes used in hospitals may vary from place to place.

There are more hospital emergency codes used by many healthcare centres around the world. The code “Silver” means that a person has a weapon, and to alert staff about a violent person without weapon, the hospital uses code “Grey.”

9. Inspector Sands: fire or bomb alert

In United Kingdom, the secret emergency code, “Inspector Sands,” is used with a phrase to inform authorities about an emergency or potential emergency situation caused by a fire or bomb threat.

From rail networks to police and other public transport facilities, the code “Inspector Sands” is used so that the officials can get to the emergency quickly, while the public remains unaware until the authorities want them to know about the situation.

The code is used to let the officials control the situation or at least reach the place before alerting the public to avoid panic. Other than “Inspector Sands,” the secret code “Mr Sands” is used by theaters when they want to keep a situation under control instead of shouting “fire, fire, fire.”

8. PEBKAC, PICNIC & ID-10T: user error


These three terms you’ll never want associated with with from you. Just have a look at their meanings and you’ll realize why you will never want your IT guy to label you with any of these terms.

PEBKAC: Problem Exists Between Keyboard And Chair

PICNIC: Problem In Chair, Not In Computer

ID-10T: Idiot

Funny thing is that these terms are still in use by customer service representatives, and many computer experts also use them. It is a way to describe a user error, as the problem reported was occurred due to the user’s ignorance and is not at all related to the hardware or software. Any variety of ignorance or stupidity can be described by these codes.

Have you ever tried searching for “any key” on your keyboard when you were asked to “press any key”?

7. Blue Juice: toilet water on floor


You might hear “Blue Juice” in a coded announcements on your flight or on a ferry trip. The code “Blue Juice” means toilet water is on the floor. The term blue juice is used for water in the lavatory on a plane.

As a frequent flier, you’re probably aware about many emergency codes such as “Code Bravo,” which is announced to alert everyone about a flight emergency. But there are still many terms like “Blue Juice” that are interesting. Some of them include “All-call,” a request to all the flight attendants to report from his/her station via intercom. It is something like a conference call for flight attendants.

6. Operation Rising Star: someone’s dead


You’ll never want to hear this announcement on flight because it is a signal of death. The airlines staff makes the announcement “Operation Rising Star” to inform the officials that a passenger has passed away.

For medical emergencies, the code “Operation Bright Star” is also used as a signal. If you have always wondered about what happens if someone dies on a plane, here is the answer.

In case of medical emergency, the announcement will include the code “Operation Bright Star,” and once the person is declared dead, the staff announcement “Operation Rising Star” can be heard. The airline, after all the necessary check-ups and after a death confirmation from a doctor, zips up the body in a body bag and places it in the morgue.

5. Sick Passenger


The announcements about “Sick Passenger” at subways are common. The term is often misunderstood by people as they assume that the sick passenger means someone who tried to or already committed suicide on the railway track.

The “Sick Passenger” incidents are actually the ones where a passenger has vomited or fainted. Incidents such as heart attacks, unconsciousness, and even death are also covered in the “Sick Passenger” announcements.

So, what if someone commits suicide on the track?

Well, in that situation subway conductors will call it “Police Investigation.” Workers are instructed to announce suicide incidents as “Police Investigation” for obvious reasons. The subway conductors try their best to avoid the situations that can cause a stampede.

4. Echo, Echo, Echo: get ready for collision


“Echo, Echo, Echo” is a secret emergency code which is used to announce a possibility of collision with another ship. It is a signal to let the crew members know about the possible collision happening anytime soon.

The code is also used by several cruise lines to alert everyone about high winds by saying “Echo” three times. After the distress signal, staff members are requested to get into position and be ready with all the necessary security measures. Other vessel emergency codes include terms such as “Zulu, Zulu, Zulu,” which is announced when there’s a fight taking place on a cruise line.

3. Number Codes in The Tube


The Tube refers to the UK’s underground subway system. Employees use many secret emergency codes which they don’t want you to know about, which include some number codes that convey emergency alert messages. A documentary titled “The Tube” reveals many hidden things about numbered codes.

Not each of the code is made for high tension moments, some less dangerous incidents are also denoted by the numbered codes.

“Code 1” is a signal about blood and “Code 2” refers to urine. The staff uses “Code 3” refers to vomit and they use “Code 4” for general spillage. You will probably hear “Code 5,” as it is used for broken glass and “Code 6” for litter. To denote all the other cleaning situations, the staff members use “Code 7.”

2. Color Codes in Hospitals


Emergency codes are to alert staff about various on-site emergencies. To reduce misunderstanding, the color codes are used to convey information quickly without putting the hospital visitors under stress.

If a patient is missing, the staff will use “Code Yellow” as an alert signal. “Code Amber” is used to convey the information about an abducted or missing infant or child. The “Code Purple” is used to alert the staff in case of a hostage taking.

If there’s a bomb threat, you will hear the staff using the emergency “Code Black.” To refer to aggression, “Code White” is used and you may also hear the hospital staff talking about “Code Brown” that refers to hazardous spills on the premise. “Code Grey” is used to refer to a system failure.

These codes vary from hospital to hospital, so there is chance that you may hear them in some hospitals but don’t expect to hear them in every hospital around the world.

1. Pan-Pan: help needed, but no threat to life


“Pan-Pan” is an international radio signal which is used to inform the concerned authorities about a state of emergency on an aircraft, ship or other vehicle. Just like “Mayday,” it is spoken three times. The one who announces the emergency also shares the location information, necessary details about the problem, and information about the type of assistance required.

Many people misunderstand and even some publications have published the wrong information about the “Pan-Pan” signal. It is not the same as a “Mayday” signal. “Pan-Pan” signal is also an assurance that the help is needed, but there is no injury caused to anyone and that there is no threat to anyone’s life or to the aircraft or vessel.


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