Bomb Threats and Suspicious Packages

While not common, bomb threats and suspicious packages can happen at the University. In order to ensure your safety, and to minimize the disruptions caused by such threats (usually the goal of those making the threats), the following procedures should be followed:

If you observe a suspicious object, package or potential bomb on campus, do not handle the object! Clear the area and immediately call University Police at 911 or (603) 535-2330.

Turn off all radios, walkie-talkies and cell phones. Do not turn them on again until the situation has been cleared by emergency personnel.

Phone Bomb Threats

If you receive a bomb threat on the phone, it is imperative that you remain calm.

Any person receiving a phone call bomb threat should ask the caller:

  • When is the bomb going to explode?
  • Where is it right now?
  • What does it look like?
  • What kind of bomb is it?
  • What will cause it to explode?
  • Did you place the bomb?
  • Why?

Keep talking to the caller as long as possible, listen carefully and try to determine the following:

  • Time of call.
  • Age and sex of caller.
  • Speech pattern, accent, possible nationality, etc.
  • Emotional state of caller.
  • Background noise.

A Sample Bomb Threat Report Form is located on line in myPlymouth

Report the incident immediately to Campus Police by dialing 911. If at all possible, have another person call 911 while you maintain a conversation with the caller. The University Police, along with the Fire Department, will handle all such threats. Evacuations will be ordered only if police or fire officials determine they are necessary.

Written Bomb Threats

If you receive a bomb threat via a letter or note, dial 911 immediately, and do the following:

  • Make note of all persons that you know handled the note.
  • Avoid excessive handling of the note. The police will want to check for fingerprints.
  • Follow all instructions from responding emergency personnel. Evacuate if ordered to do so.

You may be asked to assist the police and fire departments when they arrive, because you are far more likely to recognize something out of place than they are.

Police and Fire officials will conduct a detailed bomb search. Report the location of any object to Campus Police. Do not touch the object! Do not open drawers, cabinets or turn lights on or off.

If ordered to evacuate, go to an open area where the possibility of a secondary device would be minimal.

Suspicious Mail or Packages

Never open or excessively handle any letter or package that you believe is meant to cause harm.

Not all dangerous packages or envelopes look suspicious, and not all suspicious looking packages are dangerous. You must always use your best judgment. If you are concerned for any reason, do not handle the package. Contact University Police at ext. 52330 or dial 911 for assistance.

Characteristics of Suspicious Packages/Letters include:

  • No return address
  • Odd smell or sounds coming from the package
  • Oily stains, leaking or seepage from the package
  • Wires protruding from the package
  • Written directions indicating only a specific person is to open the package
  • Packages that are addressed to a title only, without a name, or incorrect titles
  • Restrictive markings, like “personal” “private” or “to be opened only by..”
  • Excessive postage, no postage or non-canceled postage
  • Excessive use of tape or unprofessionally wrapped packages
  • A rigid or bulky envelope
  • Misspelled words, poor handwriting, printing or typing
  • Postmark showing a very different location than return address

If you determine that the package or letter is suspicious,

  • Gently set the package down and secure the area by closing doors.
  • Call the police by dialing 911.
  • Do not attempt to further handle the package until it has been deemed safe by responding personnel. This will keep fingerprints to a minimum and will assist the police in identifying potential offenders.
  • Do not attempt to destroy the package on your own.
  • Determine who else in the office or on the campus may have legitimately handled the package and be ready to communicate this information to the police.
  • Evacuate the area if ordered to do so by the authorities.

Dealing with an Opened, Threatening Package or Envelope

If a threat is not identified or considered until after a package or envelope is open, it is most important to remain calm. By taking the following actions, you will limit the exposure of others to the potential danger and you will allow emergency personnel to treat you quicker, if necessary:

  • Move away from the package, but do not leave the area that you are in, unless the package contains a type of bomb or other explosive device.
  • Close any doors in the immediate area, and isolate yourself and anyone else that was in the immediate vicinity of the package. (This may mean a temporary quarantine type of arrangement for you and anyone else in the immediate room).
  • Do not allow any entry except by emergency response personnel.
  • Use the phone and dial 911. Follow all instructions from emergency personnel.
  • Turn off any window A/C units and fans.
  • Contact the Physical Plant and request that any air handling units not controlled locally be shut down.
  • Make a list of any others that may have come in contact with the package, including those that may have handled it but not opened it. Be prepared to share this information with emergency responders.

It is important to understand that the goal of responding emergency personnel is to make sure you and any others in the affected area remain safe and healthy. Their available resources are extensive and will allow them to properly handle the situation as promptly as possible. Stay calm and give the responders the time to formulate a response. Be prepared to communicate over the phone with them for a time. They will get to you as soon as possible and they will arrange for medical treatment, decontamination, and any other services that you may require.