People handling mail should be aware of the procedures to follow if they receive or notice a suspicious piece of mail.
This is particularly important for staff in mail rooms or other areas where bulk incoming mail is handled, but anyone may be exposed to a suspicious piece of mail at work or at home.
The mail bomb recognition checklist [PDF, 58KB] helps you identify whether a letter or package should be treated as suspicious.
Factors that will help identify suspicious letters or packages:
- Excessive postage
- Incorrect titles
- Title but no name
- Misspelling of common words
- Handwritten or poorly typed addresses
- Oily stains, discolourations or odour
- No return address
- Excessive weight
- Lopsided or uneven envelope
- Protruding wires or aluminum foil
- Excessive security material such as masking tape, string, etc
- Visual distractions
- Ticking sound
- Marked with restrictive endorsements, such as 'Personal' or 'Confidential'
- Shows a city, state or province in the postmark that does not match the return address.
How to decide if an unopened letter or package is suspicious
- If there is a ticking sound or protruding wires or aluminum foil, then it should automatically be regarded as suspicious.
- The addressee should be contacted to see if the letter or package is expected.
- A letter or package can be regarded as suspicious when it is obviously not promotional/marketing mail, the addressee has examined it and at least three suspicious features (see above) have been identified.
How to deal with a suspicious unopened letter or package
- Do not shake or empty contents of envelope or package
- Place the envelope or package into a plastic bag
- If you have been wearing protective gloves, then place them into the same bag
- If hands or any part of the body may have come into contact with the envelope or package, wash with soap and water
- Call 111 and ask for the Police.
How to deal with a suspicious opened letter or package
Use the same procedures for unopened letters and packages (above), and:
- Put on gloves
- Place opened letter/package in a plastic bag
- If contents are spilled:
- Don't clean up or wipe spilt contents
- Clear the area of people
- Isolate the area
- Switch off air conditioning
- Wash hands with soap and hot water.
If contents are spilt on clothing:
- Select a room for changing
- Remove clothing and place in plastic bag
- Shower with soap and hot water
- Change into other clothes
Then call your local police station.
Dealing with bomb threats
It can be helpful to have a checklist for recording information if a bomb threat is received. If a bomb threat is received, it is the responsibility of employers to decide whether a search or evacuation will be conducted.
The bomb threat checklist [PDF, 76KB] offers general advice on bomb safety issues; print it out and keep it by your phone.