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Homeland Security

Ensuring Building Security

For any emergency located in a federal building or property, please call the Federal Protective Service at: 1-877-4FPS-411.

This information provides guidance on effective ways to make your federal buildings safer. Employees should increase awareness of any suspicious activity and report concerns to the appropriate security and law enforcement personnel. The better we prepare ourselves to respond to emergencies, the better we will be able to care for ourselves and our co-workers in the event of a real threat or act of violence.

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General Guidance and Emergency Numbers

  • Know whom to contact in an emergency
  • Don't be reluctant to seek assistance
  • Report suspicious persons or packages
  • Know your role in case of emergency
  • Know your occupant emergency plan
  • Wear your identification badge
  • Challenge people not wearing ID badges
  • Post only appropriate material on the Internet
  • Be cautious of phone and discussions held in open areas
  • Don't leave your computer unattended
  • Report unusual requests for information
  • Write all emergency numbers for your building on a card and keep for future reference:
    • Emergency phone number:
    • Federal Protective Service: 1-877-4FPS-411
    • Building security:
    • Police/sheriff:
    • Fire department:
    • Ambulance:
    • Health unit:
  • For family or business preparedness in case of emergency, please visit Ready.gov
  • For any emergency located in a federal building or property please call the Federal Protective Service at: 1-877-4FPS-411

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Handling Suspicious Mail

  • Examine unopened envelopes and packages and look for suspicious features.
  • Handle incoming mail in a designated separate mailroom.
  • Wash your hands after mail is opened.
  • Restrict mailroom access to authorized persons.

Receiving Suspect Packages

  • Remain calm.
  • Do not open the package or letter.
  • Do not shake or empty the contents of a suspicious package or envelope.
  • Do not carry the package or envelope, show it to others or allow others to examine it.
  • Put the package or envelope on a stable surface; do not sniff, touch, taste, or look closely at it or any contents that may have spilled.
  • Do not touch your eyes, nose or other body parts.
  • Shut off window air conditioning units and fans.
  • Isolate the package and secure the room by shutting all doors and windows.
  • Thoroughly wash hands with soap and water.
  • If in or near a federal facility, contact the Federal Protective Service by calling 1-877-4FPS-411.
  • Report to supervisor and call 911.
  • Advise fellow co-workers to avoid the area.
  • Don't leave the area until told to by responding officers.
  • Ensure that all persons who have touched the letter wash their hands with soap and water.
  • Make a list of all persons who touched the letter or package and who were in the area when the letter was opened.
  • After examination of package, shower with soap and water.

Features of Suspect Mail

  • Excessive postage, no postage, or non-canceled postage
  • No return address or fictitious return address
  • Improper spelling of names, titles or locations
  • Unexpected envelopes from foreign countries
  • Suspicious or threatening messages written on packages
  • Postmark with different location than return address
  • Distorted handwriting or cut-and-paste lettering
  • Unprofessionally wrapped packages or excessive use of tape, strings, or other wrapping
  • Packages marked "Fragile: Handle with Care," "Rush: Do Not Delay," "Personal" or "Confidential"
  • Rigid, uneven, irregular, or lopsided packages
  • Packages discolored, oily or with an unusual odor
  • Packages with soft spots, bulges, or excessive weight
  • Protruding wires or aluminum foil

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What to Do During a Phone Threat

  • Stay calm and be courteous to the caller.
  • If in or near a federal facility, immediately following the call report the threat to the Federal Protective Service at: 1-877-4FPS-411.
  • Report the threat immediately to 911.
  • Write down the time, incoming extension number and exact wording of the threat.
  • Do not allow the phone line to be used again until law enforcement has a chance to trace the call.

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What to Do During a Bomb Threat

  • Keep calm and continue talking to the caller.
  • Fill out the bomb threat checklist at your workstation.
  • Repeat questions if necessary.
  • Don't hang up; stretch out the conversation.
  • Signal a co-worker to pick up an extension.
  • Ask the caller to repeat the message and write down any additional information.
  • Remember to fill out both sides of the bomb threat checklist.
  • Note any background noise as well as the caller’s gender, voice pitch and accent.
  • Have a co-worker call the Federal Protective Service, a protective security officer or local police.
  • Don't allow the phone line to be used again so that law enforcement has an opportunity to trace the call.
  • Notify your immediate supervisor.

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What to Do During a Weapons Threat

  • Stay calm and quietly signal for help.
  • Maintain eye contact with weapon carrier.
  • Stall for time and speak calmly to the perpetrator.
  • Keep talking, yet follow instructions from the person who has the weapon.
  • Don't risk harm to yourself or others.
  • Never attempt to grab the weapon.
  • Watch for a possible chance to escape to a safe area.

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What to Do During a Chemical or Biological Threat

Questions to Ask:

  • What chemical or biological agent is it?
  • When is the agent going to be released?
  • Where is it right now? (building/floor/room)
  • Who put it there?
  • What does it look like?
  • What will cause it to spread?
  • What will trigger it?
  • Where did you find this agent?
  • Why are you doing this?
  • What is your phone number and address?
  • What is your name?

Observe the following:

  • Write down a description of the caller's voice, including gender, age, tone, accent and speech impediments.
  • Describe any background sounds you hear.

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Evacuation Plan

  • Follow your facility’s Occupant Emergency Plan
  • Stay calm and quickly prepare to leave the building.
  • Notify co-workers to evacuate the premises.
  • Take appropriate stairwells, not elevators, to leave the building.
  • Follow your building’s specific emergency action plan and meet in designated areas.
  • Do not return to the building until law enforcement officials have indicated that it is safe to return.

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Last Published Date: August 1, 2012
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