Responding to Bomb Threat and Suspicious Package
Learn how to respond to a bomb threat and a suspicious package at your workplace.
A bomb threat and a suspicious package must be taken seriously at all times. There is always a chance that the next bomb threat received may be real. That’s why it’s essential to set up the steps for handling a bomb threat and ensure they are recognized and followed.
The instruction and resources listed below provide a framework of actions for either bomb threats or suspicious packages and will help you and your employees prepare and react accordingly during these events.
If You Receive a Bomb Threat
Bomb threats are most commonly delivered by phone, but can also be made in person, or via email. Every bomb threat is different and should be handled based on the building or the environment. Property managers and law enforcement should be notified immediately to determine the credibility of the threat.
It can be critical to keep the caller on the phone as long as possible. The person receiving the threat must register the exact details of the threat. It’s important to remain calm and engage the caller in a conversation by asking questions to get as much information as possible.
- Keep the caller on the line as long as you can. Speak calmly, be polite, and show interest to keep the person talking.
- Register as much information as possible: caller ID, exact details of the threat, any background noises, accent, tone of voice.
- If possible, as you speak, notify or signal others to contact the authorities.
- Immediately call 911 once the caller hangs up.
Among the essential details of the threat are the location of the bomb, what does it look like, when will it go off, why it’s in the building, and so on.
If You Find a Suspicious Package
An item left unattended in a crowded area can be a suspicious package. If you see such items (e.g., a bag, a package), first, pay attention to some visible components, like wires, sticking out, a ticking sounds, or any unusual vapors. Most likely, such items will not be left openly exposed, and will be hidden. If you spot any of these potential indicators, follow these steps:
- Do not touch the item.
- Do not use your cellphone near it.
- Notify authorities immediately: this can include your supervisor or a property manager.
- Call 911 or you local law enforcement.
- If you feel like you’re in danger, evacuate the area.
If the caller didn’t provide any specific details, the threat might be a hoax. Local authorities, along with a property’s police and management, will decide on the following steps. The U.S. Department of Homeland Security, together with the FBI, has developed a Bomb Threat Guidance to help decision-makers with pre-threat preparation and threat assessment. The decision may be to conduct a building search or to evacuate everyone.
There may be either a partial or full evacuation of a building. During a partial evacuation, a PA announcement may be made in all affected areas. Security and police may also evacuate everyone floor-by-floor. In case of a full evacuation, a fire alarm can be set off, along with an official emergency notification sent to everyone in the building.
What makes a bomb threat or a suspicious package a legitimate threat:
- An unusual item found during a building search.
- The threat is very specific, directed toward someone in particular.
- The caller states a motive.
- The caller engages in dialogue or calls back several times.