Suspicious Packages and Letters

Biological, radiological, and explosive threats targeting individuals or departments can frequently be controlled by screening of materials and by following the procedures listed below. Emergency response agencies (police, fire) have plans in place to deal with these types of threats. Following the procedures below will activate those plans and promote the highest level of safety while minimizing the disruption associated with these incidents.

  1. Mail and package delivery to each department should be screened for suspicious letters and/or packages. Common features of threat letters/packages are:
    • No return address
    • Handwritten or poorly typed address
    • Misspelling of common words
    • Restrictive markings such as "Confidential", "Personal", etc.
    • Excessive weight
    • Powdery, liquid, or other foreign substance leaking from package
  2. Suspicious letters and packages should not be opened and should not be handled any more than is absolutely necessary. If there is something leaking from the suspicious item, leave it alone and immediately call University Police at 256-824-6911.
  3. If you open a letter/package that claims to have contaminated you; but there is no substance seen or felt in the envelope or on the letter, chances are that you have not been contaminated. Call University Police at 256-824-6911 and tell them exactly what you have done and what information you have in regard to the threatening letter. They will dispatch the appropriate personnel to your location to follow-up on your possible exposure and to document what has taken place. Do not handle the suspicious item any more and do NOT let anyone else handle the item.
  4. If you open a letter/package that claims to have contaminated you and there is some sort of foreign substance in the envelope or package, place the letter back into the envelope/package, close it back up, and place it in a plastic bag and seal it. The person that opened the envelope/package; and, anyone who came in contact with the envelope/package or its contents after it was opened, should immediately wash their hands with soap and water. If you are covered with a significant amount of the substance, stay in the room and emergency responders will bring you some clean clothing to change into and place the contaminated clothing in a plastic trash bag. Then wash your hands with soap and water. Call University Police at 824-6911 to report the letter/package and tell the dispatcher you have opened the letter/package, there is a substance inside, and what you have done up to that point.