DESPP Provides Updated Information on How to Handle Suspicious Mail




The Department of Emergency Services and Public Protection, Division of Emergency Management and Homeland Security, working in collaboration with public health, law enforcement, and fire service officials, today released updated guidance for individuals who may come into contact with suspicious mail or packages.

The guidance, which is being distributed to municipalities and school superintendents throughout the state in cooperation with the Department of Education, provides general information and is designed to reinforce existing safety protocols.  The guidance is below:



March 7, 2012

Suspicious mail and letters containing powder and/or purporting to contain a chemical or biological threat may be received by mail from time to time in Connecticut and other states.   To prevent potential exposures and subsequent infection, all employees handling mail should know how to recognize a suspicious package or envelope and take appropriate steps to protect themselves and others.

If a package or envelope appears suspicious, NON-EMERGENCY PERSONNEL SHOULD NOT OPEN OR TOUCH IT.  Emergency personnel should limit direct contact with the package.  Ideally, only those with hazardous material training should proceed to handle the package, when cleared by a bomb technician or other appropriate emergency personnel, and only when it is deemed necessary. 

The following are guidelines to respond to suspicious mail with perceived threats:

Some characteristics of suspicious packages and envelopes include the following:

  • Actual threat message in or on the package
  • Inappropriate or unusual labeling

      ―excessive postage

      ―handwritten or poorly typed addresses

      ―misspellings of common words

      ―strange return address or no return address

      ―incorrect titles or title without a name

      ―not addressed to a specific person

      ―marked with restrictions such as "Personal," "Confidential,"  "Do not x-ray"

      ―marked with any threatening language

      ―postmarked from a city or state that does not match the return address

  • Appearance

      ―powdery substance felt through or appearing on the package or envelope

      ―oily stains, discolorations, or odor

      ―lopsided or uneven envelope

      ―excessive packaging material such as masking tape, string, etc.

  • Other suspicious signs

      ―excessive weight

      ―ticking sound

      ―protruding wires or aluminum foil

If a package or envelope appears suspicious, DO NOT OPEN IT.

Handling of suspicious packages or envelopes:

Step 1: Do not panic

Step 2: Report the incident to your supervisor

Step 3: Turn off the local air conditioner or fan

Step 4: Cover the item

Step 5: Secure the room and prevent others from entering

Step 6: Wash hands with soap and water or use bacterial wipes

Step 7: Move to an isolated room nearby, if possible–if not, stay at the site

Step 8: Obtain names and phone numbers of all persons in the area

Step 9: Wait for further instructions


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