Be wary of suspicious packages and letters. They can contain
explosives, chemical or biological agents. Be particularly cautious
at your place of employment. Some typical characteristics postal
inspectors have detected over the years, which ought to trigger
suspicion, include parcels that:
- Are unexpected or from someone unfamiliar to you.
- Have no return address, or have one that can't be
verified as legitimate.
- Are marked with restrictive endorsements, such as "Personal,"
"Confidential" or "Do not x-ray."
- Have protruding wires or aluminum foil, strange odors or
- 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
- 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are otherwise outdated.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.
With suspicious envelopes and packages other than those that
might contain explosives, take these additional steps against
possible biological and chemical agents.
- Refrain from eating or drinking in a designated mail handling
- 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.
- If you are at work, report the incident to your building
security official or an available supervisor, who should notify
police and other authorities without delay.
- 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 both the local public health authorities and law
enforcement officials for follow-up investigations and
- If you are at home, report the incident to local police.
In the immediate area of a terrorist event, leave quickly and
orderly. Listen to police, fire, and other officials for
instructions. Leave the building as quickly as possible. Do not
stop to retrieve personal possessions or make phone calls. If
things are falling around you, get under a sturdy table or desk
until they stop falling. Then leave quickly, watching for weakened
floors and stairs and falling debris as you exit.