It seems almost every day, we’re reading about bomb threats in the news. Whether or not the threat is credible, each event must be treated the same way: Take them very seriously and act quickly and calmly.
Receiving a bomb threat
Bomb threats can be received in numerous ways: a phoned threat, in-person verbal or written threat, or via email or fax. According to the Government of Canada’s Get Prepared resource: if you receive a bomb threat via telephone, it’s important to stay calm and gather as much information as you can, while keeping the caller on the line for as long as possible.
Try to note the following:
- If the speaker is male or female
- If the speaker has a distinctive accent
- If the voice is disguised, muffled or strange-sounding
- If the voice is shrill or deep
- Any background noises (e.g. traffic, bus passing, bell ringing, fax or printer sounds)
- Any indoor vs. outdoor sounds
Call the police and building management immediately after you hang up.
Suspicious package or unattended item
Another example of a bomb threat is a suspicious or unattended package. While packages are regularly received in large commercial buildings, it’s important to understand when something is out of place. Here are several items that can be referenced if you’re concerned with a package’s potential danger.
Knowing what to do in the event of a suspicious unattended item will reduce the risk of false alarms to authorities. According to the Department of Homeland Security:
A suspicious item is any item (e.g., bag, package, vehicle, etc.) that is reasonably believed to contain explosives, an improvised explosive device (IED), or other hazardous material that requires a bomb technician and/or specialized equipment to further evaluate it. Examples that could indicate a bomb include unexplainable wires or electronics, other visible bomb-like components, and unusual sounds, vapors, mists, or odors. Generally speaking, anything that is Hidden, Obviously suspicious, and not Typical (HOT) should be deemed suspicious. In addition, potential indicators for a bomb are threats, placement, and proximity of the item to people and valuable assets.
If a suspicious item is found at your location, it’s important to not touch the item, remain calm, avoid use of two-way radio or cellular phones nearby, and notify authorities immediately. Ensure the area is clear of building tenants, and upon evacuation be on the lookout for additional threats.
For building owners and operators, having a bomb threat plan in advance is paramount. WPS Disaster Management Solutions develops building multi-hazard emergency and disaster plans based on a nationally recognized planning standard known as ICS, or Incident Command System. ICS is a very scalable system, meaning you can execute this plan even if you only have one building staff member available (referred to as Building Incident Command). Similar to our fire safety plan, our multi-hazard plans include role specific emergency procedures and cover up to 13 different life threatening events:
- bomb threat,
- suspicious package,
- hazardous materials,
- power failure,
- armed or violent intruder,
- pandemic, and
Contact us today to start planning for your building.