Suspicious packages

Always treat suspicious packages with an abundance of caution. It’s important to know what makes a package suspicious.

Here are the things to watch for:

  • Unknown or missing return address
  • Unusual odour or sound
  • Protruding wires
  • Too much postage (stamps and/or postmarks)
  • Spelling mistakes, badly typed or written address
  • Addressed to recipient by title only (e.g., “President”)
  • Special handling instructions (such as “Do not X-ray”)
  • Rigid or bulky envelope
  • Unusual or uneven shape
  • Excessive wrapping, tape, or string. Discolouration, oily stains, or crystallization on the outside
  • Contents leaking

If you see a suspicious letter or package:

  • Do not handle, shake, or smell it. If you touched the item, keep your hands away from your mouth.
  • Do not use a cell phone or two-way radio in the vicinity of the package.
  • Notify Security and be ready to provide the following information:
    • Where the package is (building, room) and its exact location in the room
    • Description of the package
    • Your name and a telephone number where you can be reached
  • If you can do so safely, isolate the item, e.g., by putting an upside-down waste bin over top of it. The package must not touch anything.
  • Memorize what the item looks like so you can describe it later (do NOT take a photo with your smartphone).
  • Evacuate the area:
    • Do not pull the manual fire alarm
    • Tell everyone in the immediate area to evacuate and take their personal belongings (briefcase, purse, lunchbox, car keys, etc.) with them
    • Evacuate with everyone else
    • As you leave, look for any packages along the exit route or in places they shouldn’t be (e.g.,  behind a door, in a stairwell, near an exit door, etc.). If you see a package, notify everyone in the immediate area, retrace your steps, use a different exit route, and call Security as soon as you can to report the package.

If you open a suspicious package:

  • Stop handling it immediately.
  • Do not move it.
  • Leave the room and isolate yourself from other people to avoid any risk of contamination.
  • Wash your hands with soap.
  • Do not use a cell phone or two-way radio in the vicinity of the package.
  • Call Security.
  • Wait in a safe location for response teams, police, or fire fighters to arrive.

If the package explodes:

  • Avoid activating any device or system that could produce a spark in the area of the explosion (cell phone, electrical switch or appliance, manual fire alarm, etc.).
  • Follow the evacuation procedure.
  • Quickly leave the building and go to the nearest meeting point. Wait there for further instructions.
  • If objects are falling from shelves or the ceiling, shelter under a desk or table until the danger has passed.
  • The police, emergency personnel, and public health officials will tell you what to do next.