I know the title of this post sounds like a bit of an exaggeration - but it's not; the 'Lifesaver' hat awarded in this year's bash which includes the red cross emblem violates Article 53 of the Geneva Conventions for the Protection of War Victims of 12 August 1949, which states:

The use by individuals, societies, firms or companies either public or private, other than those entitled thereto under the present Convention, of the emblem or the designation “Red Cross” or “Geneva Cross”, or any sign or designation constituting an imitation thereof, whatever the object of such use, and irrespective of the date of its adoption, shall be prohibited at all times.

This publication from the British Red Cross gives a brief explanation for why this is the case:

If asked, many people in the UK would probably say that the red cross is a first aid or medical sign.

In fact, first and foremost, the red cross emblem is a special sign of neutrality and protection in armed conflict. It is used to safeguard the wounded and sick and those who care for them. As such, the primary users are the medical services of the armed forces. The emblem shows that a person or object is protected under the 1949 Geneva Conventions (international humanitarian law).

The secondary purpose of the emblem is to indicate that the person or object on which it is displayed is connected with the International Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement, which includes the British Red Cross.

The emblem must be completely trusted to signify neutrality and protection, which is why its use is restricted by international and national law. If the red cross emblem or similar signs are used for other purposes, no matter how beneficial or inconsequential they may seem, the special significance of the emblem will be diminished.

This article has been widely implemented into national law - for example in the UK and in the USA. The latter of these sets the penalty for use of the emblem by any person or corporation other than the American Red Cross or the armed forces as a fine, or imprisonment for a term of up to six months, or both.

This occasionally comes to media attention when video games change the symbol on their health packs, usually after receiving a strongly worded letter from the International Committee of the Red Cross.

I suggest altering the current colour of the cross on the Lifesaver hat from red, or altering the symbol to one not protected under international law.

  • 16
    @ShadowWizardChasingStars - I'm not sure this is the place to be challenging the Geneva Convention itself ;)
    – Tetsujin
    Dec 15, 2022 at 12:23
  • @Tetsujin of course, just had some steam to let out, it really annoys me, lol. Dec 15, 2022 at 12:25
  • 2
    btw, it's not just the red cross on white, it's also the white cross on red. Both are against the Geneva Convention.
    – Tetsujin
    Dec 15, 2022 at 12:26
  • @Tetsujin so red cross on yellow background is allowed? Dec 15, 2022 at 13:11
  • @ShadowWizardChasingStars - it's all right there in the UK link above.
    – Tetsujin
    Dec 15, 2022 at 13:27
  • 18
    Well... that's uncomfortable. Thanks for bringing this to our attention, we'll get right on fixing it. :)
    – Catija
    Dec 15, 2022 at 15:14
  • @Catija - I wonder whether this may affect Collection Complete too...
    – Tetsujin
    Dec 15, 2022 at 15:22
  • 2
    @Tetsujin We're changing all three. :)
    – Catija
    Dec 15, 2022 at 15:25
  • 8
    @Tetsujin The inverted Red Cross is the Swiss flag (and vice versa), why would using the Swiss flag be against Geneva conventions? Isn't using the white cross on red to indicate a medical sign simply wrong? See for example here for a bit of context. Dec 15, 2022 at 16:02
  • @BenjaminW. - read the UK Law page, linked above, but here it is again for convenience… legislation.gov.uk/ukpga/Eliz2/5-6/52/section/6 Note: Geneva is in Switzerland, famously neutral ;))
    – Tetsujin
    Dec 15, 2022 at 16:14
  • 7
    Huh, so, as a Swiss in England, when I want to celebrate my national day, I can't break out the Swiss flag? Who knew. Dec 15, 2022 at 16:18
  • @BenjaminW. - I think you're being rather over-literal. tbh, if you waved it on St George's Day, I doubt anyone would spot the difference.
    – Tetsujin
    Dec 15, 2022 at 16:21
  • 4
    @Tetsujin I'm not trying to be difficult, but as a Swiss, I wasn't aware that there are rules about me being not allowed to wave my own flag. Dec 15, 2022 at 17:31
  • 23
    This is my favorite WinterBash bug report ever.
    – balpha StaffMod
    Dec 15, 2022 at 21:22
  • 10
    This may be my favorite bug report ever
    – squillman
    Dec 16, 2022 at 19:48

2 Answers 2


First of all, thank you so much for bringing this to our attention. It's not uncommon for us to need to do a quick redesign of a hat that we release but never for such a serious reason.

We certainly didn't make this decision in a deliberate attempt to damage the reputation of the Red Cross - we just honestly weren't aware that this was a concern and based our designs on common real-world hats for lifeguards and nurses... the super hero one was purely us iterating on a theme.

To address this, we've re-released the hats in a color I hope we can all enjoy - pink!

I am personally more a fan of green but I may have offhandedly said "Just make them all pink. 😛" and that's what we did.

Special credit goes to designer scoso for the quick redesign and Adam Lear for the build.

  • 3
    I hereby protest. You said pink, but they are kinda.. white right now :P
    – SPArcheon
    Dec 15, 2022 at 16:34
  • 9
    I'm kinda glad y'all went with pink, as someone who lives in the US green just signals to me "marijuana/CBD is sold here" which probably isn't the hat's intended meaning Dec 15, 2022 at 21:26

I'd suggest green - that's what UK & EU Pharmacies [drug stores] use.

Rx seems to be mainly US & may not be recognised in other territories.

Signs of authority

Nowadays pharmacies display the green cross outside their shops. The green cross was first introduced as a pharmaceutical sign in continental Europe in the early 20th century as a replacement for the red cross, which was adopted by the International Red Cross in 1863. The green cross was not used in Britain until 1984, when the Royal Pharmaceutical Society of Great Britain chose it as the standard symbol for pharmacy. The society stipulated that it should be produced in a specified shade of green, or in black and white, and that the word ‘pharmacy’ or ‘pharmacist’ should appear with it.

Source: The origins and meanings of pharmacy symbols

  • 13
    Green cross in the US is often a symbol for a marijuana dispensery which, well...
    – squillman
    Dec 15, 2022 at 15:17
  • 4
    @squillman this fits, many programmers need something like that due to stress. :-D Dec 15, 2022 at 15:37
  • 2
    @ShadowWizardChasingStars Yeah that was more of a "take that for what you will" :) haha
    – squillman
    Dec 15, 2022 at 15:39
  • A sample of what it looks like. A photo of one. A much wider selection. Dec 15, 2022 at 15:41

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