How to Recognize a Suspicious Package
Several letters containingBacillus anthraciswere sent through the mail in the United States in 2001. As a result, CDC developed guidelines for recognizing and handling suspicious packages. Although there have been no recent mail-related anthrax cases, you should take the appropriate steps to protect yourself and others from exposure toBacillus anthracisby checking the appearance and weight of all packages and letters and handling any suspicious packages appropriately.
Checking the Appearance and Weight of the Package
Note the labeling and postage on the package.Check if your address is handwritten or poorly typed and if it contains any misspellings of common words, such as your street name or your city. You should also note if your name is misspelled or not specified on the package, as this may indicate the sender may be suspicious.
- You should also note if there is no return address on the package or a strange return address that you do not recognize. A suspicious package may also be marked with certain restrictions like “Personal”, “Confidential” or “Do not x-ray”. You should also note if there is any threatening language on the package, such as “Beware of contents”.
Look for any powdery substances or oily stains on the outside of the package.Examine the outside of the package for any powdery substances on the envelope or wrapping. Lightly hold the package and feel through the wrapping or the envelope for any powdery substances. You may also notice oily stains or discoloration on the outside of the package.
- Note if the package has a strange or strong odor, as this may indicate there is a suspicious substance in the package. Try to smell the package quickly and only once, as you do not want to inhale or come in contact with any substances in the package.
Check for excessive weight, ticking sounds, or protruding wires.Hold the package in your hands and check if it is very heavy or has excessive weight to it. You should also check for any ticking noises or sounds coming from the package and any protruding wires or aluminum foil coming out of the package.
- Be cautious if the package has excessive packaging material like layers of masking tape, string, and/or glue, as this may indicate the sender did not want to make it easy for you to determine what is in the package.
Handling the Suspicious Package
Do not shake or open the package.If you believe the package may be suspicious, it is important that you do not shake, open, or empty the contents of the package. You should also avoid carrying the package or showing it to others to examine.
- If you determine it is suspicious, do not sniff, touch, taste, or look at any of the contents.
Alert others in the area and leave the package on a stable surface.Let anyone else known in the residence, home, or area, that you believe you have received a suspicious package. Place the package on a stable surface and leave the area. Make sure anyone else in the area also evacuates and do not allow anyone to enter the area with the suspicious package.
- If you have a ventilation system, like an air conditioner system or a heating system, turn it off so the contents of the package cannot circulate in the area.
Wash your hands.Give your hands a good wash with soap and water to prevent spreading any potentially dangerous substances to your face or skin. Once law enforcement officials arrive, they will be able to give you additional instructions on dealing with exposure to potentially dangerous substances.
Call your local law enforcement agency.If you are at work, contact your supervisor or a security officer. Let them know you believe you have received a suspicious package and that they need to call local law enforcement.
- If you are at home, use your cellphone or a neighbor’s phone to call your local law enforcement and report the suspicious package.
- Try to make a list of the people who were in the room or area where the suspicious package was recognized and anyone who many have handled the suspicious package. You should provide this list to local law enforcement when they arrive on the scene.
QuestionWill the US Postal Service help to keep junk mail from being mailed to me?Top AnswererNo. The Postal Service will attempt to deliver any legal mail consigned to it. Your only recourse is to demand the mailer stop mailing to you.Thanks!
QuestionDo I leave the area when I receive a suspicious package?wikiHow ContributorCommunity AnswerNot necessarily, but if you are 100% sure it is something that could harm you or kill you, get a good distance away from the package and call the police and let them handle the situation. If you are in the house when noticing the package, do not go through the entrance where the package was placed. Instead try going through another exit or the window if you have to.Thanks!
Which of the following clues indicate that a package may be suspicious?
Video: Tips to help identify suspicious packages
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