Suspicious Packages-Environmental Health & Safety - Carnegie Mellon University

Suspicious Packages

How to Identify Suspicious Package and Letters

  • Excessive postage
  • Handwritten or poorly typed addresses
  • Incorrect titles
  • Title, but no name
  • No return address
  • Misspellings of common words
  • Excessive weight
  • Lopsided or uneven envelope
  • Visual distractions
  • Oily stains, discolorations or odor
  • Ticking sound
  • Protruding wires or aluminum foil
  • Excessive security material such as masking tape, string, etc.
  • Marked with restrictive endorsements, such as “Personal” or “Confidential”
  • Shows a city or state in the postmark that does not match the return address

Actions to Take Once a Potential Suspicious Package Has Been Identified:

  • Stay calm – do not panic.
  • Do not move or handle a suspicious package.
  • Evacuate the area and call University Police at 412-268-2323
  • If the suspicious letter or package is marked with a threatening message or if a suspicious powder or substance spills out of a package or envelope, follow these guidelines:
  • DO NOT CLEAN up a suspicious powder. Cover it with paper or an overturned trash can to keep it contained.
  • Turn off local fans or ventilation units in the area if the fan/ventilation switches are quickly and easily accessible.
  • Wash your hands with soap and water to prevent spreading any contamination. Remain in the general area for additional decontamination.
  • Provide University Police with your name and where you can be contacted.