Community Safety

Division of Student Life

Emergency Procedures: Suspicious mail or packages

A suspicious parcel or object is anything that is out of place and cannot be accounted for, or any item suspected of being an explosive device.

Signs that a letter or package may be suspicious:

  • The object has a powdery substance, oily stains, major discoloration, or crystallization on the outside.
  • Mailer is unfamiliar, the return address does not match the postmarked address, postage is excessive, or the mailer has not provided a return address.
  • The information is poorly handwritten or typed, or common words are misspelled.
  • The object has a weight disproportional to its size; is excessively bulky, lopsided, or oddly shaped; or has been sealed with an unusual amount of tape.
  • The object has a strange odor.
  • The object is addressed to someone who is no longer in your organization, incorporates an incorrect title, or otherwise reflects outdated personal information concerning addressee.
  • The object bears restrictive endorsements, such as "personal" or "to be opened only by addressee."

If you receive or discover a suspicious letter or package

  • Do not open or tamper with the suspicious item. Do not shake or bump the letter or package. Do not show it to others or allow others to examine it.
  • 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) and do not remove this cover.
  • Call 911 and report your suspicion immediately to Community Safety (x6666), office supervisor, or resident director or house advisor.
  • Calmly alert others in the area about the suspicious package or envelope. Leave the area, close any doors, and take actions to prevent others from entering the area. If possible, shut off the ventilation system.
  • Wash hands with soap and water to prevent spreading potentially infectious material to face or skin. Seek additional instructions for exposed or potentially exposed persons.
  • If possible, list all the people who were in the room or area, especially those who had actual contact with the powder. Give this list to the emergency responders.