Crisis Protocol: Suspicious Package


Envelopes and packages believed to be a possible threat to life and/or property. Be wary of suspicious packages and letters. They can contain explosives, chemicals or biological agents.


If you are notified or observe a suspicious package or object, DO NOT TOUCH THE OBJECT.

Identify potential threat characteristics

  • Packages that are unexpected or from someone unfamiliar to you.
  • Marked with restrictive endorsements, such as "Personal," "Confidential" or "Do not x-ray."
  • Have protruding wires or aluminum foil, strange odors or stains.
  • Show a city or state in the postmark that doesn't match the return address.
  • Are of unusual weight, given their size, or are lopsided or oddly shaped.
  • Are marked with any threatening language.
  • Have inappropriate or unusual labeling.
  • Have excessive postage or excessive packaging material such as masking tape and string.
  • Have misspellings of common words.
  • Are addressed to someone no longer with your organization or are otherwise outdated.
  • Have incorrect titles or title without a name.
  • Are not addressed to a specific person.
  • Have handwritten or poorly typed addresses.

Take precautions

  • Clear the area around suspicious packages and immediately call the Department of Public Safety from a safe location.
  • If a room or entire building is evacuated, do not stand in front of windows, glass doors or other potentially hazardous areas.
  • Do not block sidewalk or streets to be used by emergency officials or others still exiting the building

Additional precautions against possible biological and chemical agents

  • Refrain from eating or drinking in designated mail handling area.
  • If safe, place suspicious envelopes or packages in a plastic bag or some other type of container to prevent leakage of contents. Never sniff or smell suspect mail.
  • If you do not have a container, then cover the envelope or package with anything available (e.g., clothing, paper, trash can, etc.) and do not remove the cover.
  • Leave the room and close the door, or section off the area to prevent others from entering.
  • Wash your hands with soap and water to prevent spreading any powder to your face.
  • Report the incident to the Department of Public Safety or supervisor, who should immediately notify the Department of Public Safety.
  • List all people who were in the room or area when this suspicious letter or package was recognized. Give a copy of this list to the Department of Public Safety for follow-up investigations.
  • If there is an explosion, immediately leave the building as quickly as possible. DO NOT stop to retrieve personal possessions or make phone calls.