8 Secret Code Words You Were Never Meant to See

There are hundreds of codes pertaining to different fields such as police, fire, and medical. The codes are such for a reason. Simply yelling “fire!” can incite panic. See what various code words and phrases mean and why you’ll never want to hear them, ahead.

Time Check means there’s a bomb threat

shopping cart in a grocery store aisle

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If you’re grocery shopping and the music playing over the loudspeaker is replaced with a person saying, “Time check, the time is 1:30 p.m.,” stop what you’re doing and leave the store immediately. The code, Time Check, means there’s a bomb threat. “Store employees must reportedly try to locate the bomb when they hear a time check,” according to Reader’s Digest.

Hint: This four-digit code spells trouble on an airplane.

Code 7500 means the plane has been hijacked

Hawaiian Airlines Airbus

Airplane | Boarding1Now/iStock/Getty Images

The code 7500 is one you never ever want to hear on a plane because it means the plane’s been hijacked, according to Reader’s Digest. Because the meaning of the code has become widespread, cockpits have a “one-touch” button to switch the transponder to 7500, according to ABC.

Hint: A mention of this color at a hospital is bad. And it’s not blue.

Code Silver leads to a lockdown


Gun | Cas Photography/iStock/Getty Images

Forget Code Blue and listen for Code Silver at a hospital. Code Silver typically stands for “a person in the building with a weapon, a hostage situation, or another violent situation that requires a lockdown,” according to Reader’s Digest.

Hint: A seemingly positive phrase has a sad meaning.

Operation Rising Star means someone died

Saudia Boeing 777-300 airplane

Airplane | iStock.com/Boarding1Now

What sounds like a teen’s plan to become a pop sensation actually has a bad meaning on airplanes. On an aircraft, Operation Rising Star means someone died, according to Reader’s Digest. The same code is used on cruise ships, according to The Telegraph.

Hint: A fictional doctor keeps hospital staff and patients safe.

Doctor Firestone means there’s a fire in the hospital

Closeup of burning campfire in forest

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Just as shouting “Fire!” in a crowded theater is a bad idea, so is shouting the same word in a hospital. That’s why hospitals have a discrete code for notifying staff of a fire. The code is Doctor Firestone. A person saying, “Doctor Firestone to the maternity wing, Doctor Firestone to the maternity wing,” is much more discrete and will keep everyone calm.

Hint: Instead of stating the obvious, a ship’s crew uses this code.

Code Oscar means there’s a man overboard 

Cruise ship Carnival Triumph on the Caribbean Sea

Cruise ship | sgoodwin4813/iStock/Getty Images 

Variations of Code Oscar are used on ships to indicate a man overboard, according to Reader’s Digest. Another variation is Oscar, Oscar, Oscar, according to The Telegraph. It’s important to note the code for man overboard varies from vessel to vessel and industry to industry.

Hint: Know what it means if airport personnel yells this word at you.

Code Bravo indicates an airport security breach

LAX airport in Los Angeles

Airport | jupiterimages/iStock/Getty Images

Code Bravo indicates a bomb threat or a security breach at airports, according to Reader’s Digest.“Officials may actually yell it at people in the airport to scare them and make them freeze in their tracks so they can find the real threat faster.” Most often, a Code Bravo is a drill, according to The Telegraph.

Hint: The sad story behind a phrase to find a missing child.

Code Adam indicates a missing child

Customers shop at an Aldi grocery store

Grocery store | Scott Olson/Getty Images 

Malls, hospitals, supermarkets, and museums use Code Adam to indicate a missing child, according to Reader’s Digest. The code got its name from Adam Walsh, a six-year-old who was abducted from a mall and murdered in 1981, according to The New York Times. Adam’s dad, John Walsh, became the host of the TV show, America’s Most Wanted.

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