Emergency Preparedness News and Announcements

Suspicious Package



Packages and letters that may contain explosives or chemical or biological agents.

Immediate Action

Identify typical characteristics (identified by postal inspectors) which ought to trigger suspicion, including parcels that:

  1. Are unexpected or from someone unfamiliar to you
  2. Have no return address, or have one that can’t be verified as legitimate
  3. Have protruding wires or aluminum foil, strange odors, or stains
  4. Show a city or state in the postmark that doesn’t match the return address
  5. Are of unusual weight given their size, or are lopsided or oddly shaped
  6. Are marked with threatening language
  7. Have inappropriate or unusual labeling
  8. Have excessive postage or packaging material, (masking tape and string)
  9. Have misspellings of common words
  10. Are addressed to someone no longer with your organization or otherwise outdated
  11. Have incorrect titles or titles without a name
  12. Are not addressed to a specific person
  13. Have hand-written or poorly typed addresses

General Staff Assignments

  • Be particularly cautious in the mail handling area and refrain from eating or drinking in that area.
  • Do not open any mail item that appears suspicious.
  • Isolate the suspicious mail item and place it in a plastic bag or container and seal it.
  • If you do not have a bag or container, then cover the mail item with anything (e.g. clothing, paper, trash can, etc.) and do not remove this cover.
  • Ensure that all persons who have touched the mail item wash their hands with soap and water.
  • Activate your emergency plan and notify a supervisor.

Preparing Ahead/Training

  • Train staff and volunteers who handle mail about characteristics of suspicious packages.
  • Post list of characteristics of suspicious packages in mail room.

See also: Bomb Threat, Evacuation