Emergency Management

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Suspicious Packages

The Federal Bureau of Investigation and U.S. Post Office recommend that you be alert for letters and package with inappropriate or unusual labeling or appearance or other suspicious signs, including:

  • Excessive postage
  • Handwritten or poorly typed addresses
  • Misspelling of common words
  • Strange return address or no return address
  • Incorrect titles or titles without a name
  • Not addressed to a specific person
  • Postmarked for a city or state that does not match the return address
  • Restrictive marking such as “Personal” or “Confidential”
  • Strange odor
  • Protruding wires
  • Lopsided or uneven
  • Rigid or bulky
  • Oily stains, discolorations or crystallization on wrapper
  • Excessive tape or string

U.S. Post Office flyer about suspicious mail or packages

If You Receive A Suspicious Package Or Letter

  • Do not panic!
  • If possible, place the item in a plastic bag or containment system and seal it unless you suspect it could be explosive
  • If you suspect it may be explosive, evacuate immediately.
  • Stay in your office or immediate work area. Make sure your co-workers do the same (Evacuate to a secondary location if you suspect an explosive)
  • Prevent others from entering the area
  • Call 9-1-1. Be prepared to give authorities the exact location of the incident, the number of people potentially exposed, a description of the package or device, and a summary of actions taken
  • Keep your hands away from your face
  • If possible without leaving your work area, wash your hands
  • Wait for help to arrive

If You Have Already Opened A Suspicious Package

  • Do not disturb the item any further
  • If any material has spilled, do no attempt to clean it up
  • Do not cover the material up
  • Turn off any fans or air circulation equipment in the area

For A Suspected Bomb

  • Evacuate immediately
  • Call 9-1-1 from a landline phone

For Suspected Radiological Substances

  • Limit exposure – don’t handle
  • Evacuate area
  • Shield yourself from the object
  • Call 9-1-1

For Suspected Biological Or Chemical Substances

  • Isolate – don’t handle
  • Call 9-1-1
  • Wash your hands with soap and warm water

Contact Us

Polk County Emergency Management
1907 Carpenter Avenue
Des Moines, IA 50314
(515) 286-2107

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