Would you know what to do if you or your office received a Bomb threat or suspicious package?

April 17, 2013

The other day we posted What would YOU do if a bomb or explosive device goes off..? (Safety tips on dealing with an explosion) and wanted to provide some information about both bomb threats and suspicious packages from our IT’S A DISASTER! book.

What if you or your office receives a “bomb threat”?

Bomb threats are usually received by a telephone call or in the mail.

In the event you or someone in your office receives a bomb threat, do the following…

  • If you ever receive a bomb threat over the phone, get as much information from the caller as possible (e.g. what kind of bomb, what does it look like, where is it, when will it go off, etc.)
  • Try to keep caller on the phone as long as you can and write down everything that is said! (Since you’ll most likely be nervous or scared, good notes will be extremely helpful to officials later.)
  • Notify the police and building management.
  • Calmly evacuate the building, keep the sidewalks clear and stay away from windows.

What if you or someone in your office receives a “suspicious package”?

According to the United States Postal Service, the likelihood of you ever receiving a bomb in the mail is remote. But there have been a small number of explosive devices and biological agents that have surfaced in the mail over the years.

Some possible motives for an individual or group sending a “suspicious package” include revenge, extortion, love triangles, terrorism, and business (or potentially political) disputes.

The following are some unique signs or characteristics from the U.S. Postal Inspection Service that may help identify a “suspect” piece of mail…

  • Package may have restricted markings like “Personal” or “Private” to one who doesn’t receive personal mail at office or to someone no longer working there.
  • Package is sealed with excessive amounts of tape or has way too much postage on it.
  • Postmark city different than Return Address city.
  • Misspelled words, written badly or done with letters cut from newspaper or magazine and pasted on.
  • Package has wires or aluminum foil sticking out, oil stains, smells weird or sounds funny (sloshing noise).
  • Package may feel strange or look uneven or lopsided.

If you are unsure about a letter or package and are not able to verify the Sender or contents with the person it is addressed to then…

  • DO NOT open it, shake it, bump it or sniff it!
  • Cover it with a shirt, trash can or whatever is handy.
  • Evacuate the area quickly and calmly.
  • Wash your hands with lots of soap and water.
  • Call building security, 911 and your postal inspector.
  • List all the people who were near the package or letter in case they are needed for further questioning.

USPS poster about suspicious mail or packages

Click here to download above poster from USPS in PDF. Stay safe, j & B


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