System Office of Risk Services

In Case of Suspicious Package

Although any threatened use of a biological or chemical agent must be treated as though it is real, experience has demonstrated that these are likely to be a hoax However, caution is advised when dealing with any suspicious package or letter.

Common features of suspect packages or letters are:
  • There may be liquid leaking from package.
  • They tend to have hand-applied postage.
  • They have excessive postage.
  • They are addressed to a position, not a person.
  • There may be no return address.
  • They are often hand written or have a poorly typed address.
  • They tend not to be in business format envelopes.
  • There may be misspelling of common words.
  • They may have restrictive markings such as "Confidential", "Personal", etc.
  • They may have excessive weight and/or the feel of a powdery or foreign substance.
  • There may be foreign post marks and/or writing.
  • The source of the letter/package is not recognized by recipient/addressee.
If you believe you have received a suspect package or letter, you should:
  1. NOT open the letter or package.
  2. Contact your campus police.
  3. Remain at the site until police arrive with instructions.
If you inadvertently open a suspect package/letter or if it is leaking liquid or an unknown substance, you should:
  1. Immediately set the item down gently at the location where it was opened.
  2. Contact local Police at 911.
  3. All potentially exposed persons should leave the area and wash exposed skin with soap and water.
  4. Return to an area within the building adjacent to the initial exposure and wait for police (For example, a hallway outside the original room).
  5. Do not allow others into the area. If anyone enters the area, they should stay in the area until instructed to leave by Police.
  6. Remember that this is NOT a medical emergency yet, but it is a potential contamination problem.
  7. This is also a potential crime scene - preserve evidence and pay attention to what you have seen or done.
You should NOT do the following:
  1. Pass the letter or package to others to look at.
  2. Disturb any contents in the letter or package. Handling the letter/package may only spread the substance contained inside and increase the chances of it getting into the air.
  3. Ignore the threat, it must be treated as real until properly evaluated.
  4. Leave the building until instructed to do so.
Guidelines for Screening Suspicious Packages and Letters - Concerns for Explosive Devices

A suspicious package or letter may have any of the features listed above for suspicious packages and letters that may contain biological or chemical materials, including the following:

  • They may have bumps, wires, or pieces of metal exposed.
  • They may be heavy.
  • They may have an excessive amount of securing material, such as tape, string, etc.
If you suspect that a package or letter contains an explosive device, you should:
  1. Not move or open the package or letter.
  2. Not let other people inspect or handle the package or letter.
  3. Immediately evacuate the immediate and surrounding area.
  4. Call 911 from a safe location.
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