I have adapted Jeff Cooper’s Color Codes for Emergency and Survival situations as follows:

Condition White

Condition White is best described as minimally aware of one’s surroundings. In Condition White you are surprised by events rather than seeing them and potentially heading them off.


In emergency preparedness terms, Condition White is the assumption that everything is OK, and will continue to be so. If some unforeseen event occurs and you are in Condition White, you will be surprised, unable to have solutions on hand to deal with the situation, and at the mercy of what, if any, emergency services are available.


Hurricane Katrina was a good example. Those that did not plan for disaster were at the mercy of overwhelmed officials, and were unable to secure food, water, shelter, clothing, or security.

Condition Yellow

Condition Yellow is a state where one is more aware of one’s surroundings, taking note of anything that could become a problem. In Condition Yellow, you will notice potential problems forming or coming your way.


One example of this is when driving you see a merge lane coming up on your right and see that you could come into conflict with another driver. Condition Yellow for emergency preparedness is the awareness that all is not sunshine and lollypops, things can go wrong, and often do, and if you have some basic preparations made you will be less affected by these unfortunate events.


One can prepare for multiple potential disasters in Condition Yellow and many preparations are useful for many different disaster types. Food, clothing, shelter, and security should all be addressed.

Condition Orange

In Condition Orange, you perk up to a specific threat or situation that is developing that may have some potential for disaster.


Continuing the driving analogy, you see the merge lane coming up on your right, then go from Condition Yellow to Condition Orange when you see a driver merging and judge that you are about to be in conflict with him for the same space.


Your focus changes from all of your surroundings to the specific problem that is about to manifest. For emergency preparedness purposes, Condition Orange is a situation where some specific type of disaster is imminent, such as Hurricane Katrina. Preparations then become more focused and specific to the potential threat.


You should begin laying in water supplies and long term food storage, generators or alternative lighting and heating sources, batteries for flashlights, fuel for camp stoves and other specific items that will help negotiate the specific disaster that you have not already secured.

Condition Red

Condition Red is acting on the information you glean from Condition Orange alerts.


Continuing the driving analogy, you see you are about to be in conflict for the same space with a merging vehicle on the highway and you are able to immediately move your vehicle over a lane to make room for the merging traffic.


This is described as the execution phase: at yellow you see what is going on, at orange you focus on a specific concern, at red you execute a plan that allows you to avoid the problem.


For emergency preparedness purposes, Condition Red is the phase where you lock everything down. You fill up your gas tank, gather your family in one location you can defend, make sure your food stores and equipment are serviceable and available, and secure your home against potential looting or home invasion.


You should already have made many preparations for this, so the execution should be smooth. You may even have done “dry runs” to make sure you can easily accomplish what needs to be done in the time you have.

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Be Prepared!

Haven't you been keeping up with current events?

Gas prices, peak oil, natural disasters, civil unrest, martial law, economic collapse… these disasters can happen at any time, and you'd better be prepared to rely on your own resources.

We live in uncertain times, but that doesn't mean YOU can't arrange a little certainty of your own.

In the Army we took "Be Prepared" to new levels, so listen up hero! Us Army guys are prepared for anything, and you had better catch up buddy, because there's no points for second best when it comes to survival.

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