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Bomb Threats

Bombs can be constructed to look like anything and can be placed or delivered in any number of ways. Someone who makes a bomb threat may have definite knowledge that a bomb has been placed, or may want to create an atmosphere of anxiety and panic that will disrupt normal activities.

Through proper planning, you can minimize the disruption a bomb threat may cause. Instruct all personnel, especially those at a telephone switchboard, in what to do if a bomb threat is received. You can also take steps to limit the possibility of a bomb actually being placed at your facility.

Develop a bomb-threat response plan now to reduce the potential for personal injury and property damage later. By preparing now, you’ll also be ready to respond calmly if it ever happens to you. A bomb-threat response plan should include threat awareness and training, allowing staff to conduct an initial search for any suspicious items.

Printable Bomb Threat Response Checklist from the Department of Homeland Security

When a bomb threat is received:

  • Listen
  • Be calm and courteous
  • Do not interrupt the caller
  • Using a pre-arranged signal, notify your supervisor or a co-worker while the call is still ongoing. That person should then contact the police using a land-line telephone (not a cell phone)
  • Obtain as much information as possible
    • Date
    • Time
    • Duration of call
    • Exact wording of threat


  • What time will the bomb explode?
  • Where is it?
  • What does it look like?
  • Where are you calling from?
  • Why did you place the bomb?
  • What is your name?

Take note of

  • Sex
  • Estimated age
  • Accent
  • Voice (loud, soft, other)
  • Speech (Fast, slow, other)
  • Diction (Good, nasal, lisp, other)
  • Manner (Emotional, calm, vulgar, other)
  • Background noise (specify)
  • Was the voice familiar?
  • Did the caller seem familiar with the area?

Protective Measures

  • Trim heavy shrubs and vines close to the ground to reduce their potential to conceal items or criminals
  • Consider using a highly visible security patrol, cameras and burglar alarms
  • Secure entrances and exits (within fire department guidelines)
  • Develop identification procedures for personnel who access critical areas. Keep areas such as boiler rooms, computer server room and elevator control room locked at all times
  • Keep trash or dumpster areas free of debris. A bomb or explosive device can easily be concealed in trash

Contact Us

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

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