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Safety Orange Cross

A cross in the colour of Safety Orange, also known as Omaha Orange, Caltrans Orange, amongst several other names. 

The similar Orange Cross has a strong political meaning for some people, and should be distinguished from the Safety Orange Cross.

Safety Orange Cross

Safety Orange Cross

Similar in appearance to the Red Cross, the Safety Orange Cross has been used to represent emergency response and first aid.

The Red Cross is the emblem of the 'International Committee of the Red Cross' and is protected under the Geneva Conventions Act. That emblem is not a public domain First Aid symbol and neither should the Safety Orange Cross be used to represent First Aid. The International Standards Organisation recommends that a white cross on green background should be used as a First Aid symbol.

So why orange?

roadworks
Warning: Man with broken umbrella

Orange contrasts with blue and is highly visible against a clear sky. For this reason, orange is often the colour used in high visibility clothing, warning road signs and safety equipment, especially in the United States. 

Omaha Orange

ford brothers
Ford Bros. Van & Storage (1920s)

chevrolet pickup
Chevrolet Pickup (1951)

road runner
Chrysler's Plymouth Road Runner (1968)

Some local administrations give a particular name to the hue. Omaha in Nebraska, for example, lends its name to a paint used on cars and trucks, such as International Harvester, Schneider National and Allied Van Lines. The colour coordinates are the same as Safety Orange; only the name is different.

Star of Life Cross
Star of Life

Some ambulances have been marked with an orange cross called an Omaha Orange Cross, although more recently, to avoid confusion with the Red Cross, ambulances now tend to be marked with the blue and white (or green and white) Star of Life.

Understandably, the International Committee of the Red Cross is wary of commercial ambulance services, or indeed anyone else, capitalising on the organisation's reputation.

Flag of Omaha City
Omaha City

It was an Omaha delivery and storage company that coined the name 'Omaha Orange', and this name was applied to the orange crosses on local ambulances. Yet if Omaha is to be associated with any cross at all, it is most likely to be the one found in the city's flag. On this, a yellow cross is formed by four arms, each consisting of three strips that taper toward the centre. (There is also an image of a pioneer's wagon superimposed in the centre.)

Caltrans Orange

Flag of Orange County, CA
Orange County
Caltrans vehicle fleet
Caltrans vehicle fleet Toyota

The California Department of Transportation (Caltrans) also lends its name to the colour. Caltrans Orange matches exactly the background colour of the California Orange County flag.

EasyJet Orange

easyJet
easyJet Airbus 319

In Britain, the same colour coordinates are used by the young 'EasyJet Airline Company Limited' (easyJet), whose No. 1 value, according to the company website, is 'safety'. This is the corporate colour and refered to as EasyJet Orange.

It's a suitable colour for a company that tries to give an image of being 'energetic'. Orange calls to mind feelings of excitement, enthusiasm and warmth. Incidentally, the first-aid boxes on easyJet aircraft bear the ISO Green Cross.

Other Medical Crosses

A more reddish hue is known as 'International Safety Orange'. Safety Orange might also be erroneously referred to as 'DayGlo' orange, although DayGlo is a manufacturer of fluorescent pigments. In Japan, it is called daidai-iro, the colour of a bright orange fruit, and other languages have their own names.

The colour orange is half way between red and yellow, but the Safety Orange hue is deeper and contains more red (RGB colour coordinates: 255, 102, 0; Hex triplet: #FF6600), which is more striking against a blue background.

The United States Department of Transportation issues the Manual on Uniform Traffic Control Devices, which specifies the colour standards for traffic signs.

Allied Van Lines claims to have inherited the original coining of the name 'Omaha Orange'. Apparently the company's predecessor, the Ford Storage and Moving Company, painted their vans with leftover paint to save money. Purely by accident, they created a paint colour which has become the colour of choice to prevent accidents. (ref: www.dexknows.com/...

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