Anthrax Concerns: Vol. 37
Handling suspicious mail carefully
[hclightbox id=”8″ text=”Downloadable FREE National Reports”]
Officials Say, Be on the Alert and Handle Suspicious Mail Carefully.
A large volume of mail is handle by our schools everyday. They also have a very precious commodity…are children. Schools need to be very vigilant when it comes to safe guarding the children placed in their care. They need to make sure that they are doing everything possible to keep the children and staff safe.
Schools need to watch visitors (click to learn about Keys Visitor Badge Security Program) that come into our schools but what about mail. Who is watching the mail? In the mist of this Anthrax situation what are we doing to protect. Here are some things the Postal Service and the U.S. Attorney General say that can do. First is to know that the Postal Service delivers approximately 208 billion pieces of mail per year, and to date reports not seeing any real incidents, only threats or hoaxes.
However, to be prudent in the light of recent developments and the possibility that contaminated mail has been used to spread anthrax spores, the postal service is recommending special care when handling mail.
U.S. Attorney General John Ashcroft and Deputy Chief Postal Inspector Ken Newman warned Americans to pay attention to suspicious mail.
They say a potentially suspicious item is:
- Unexpected items from someone familiar.
- Items with an unfamiliar return address, a return address that cannot be verified as legitimate, or no return address.
- Items with a postmark that does not match the return address.
- Items with a correct name but incorrect title.
- Something addressed to someone who no longer lives at your address or works with your organization.
- Items that say a certain person should open the package.
- Items that are marked personal or confidential.
- Items mailed from a foreign country.
- Items with misspelled words.
- Items with strange wires.
- Items that are overweight, lopsided, or oddly shaped.
- Items with oily stains, discolorations, or crystallization on the wrapper.
If you decide the letter or package is suspicious, the FBI says you should not handle it. Do not open it, smell it, or taste it. Do not shake or bump it.
If you are at work, notify your supervisor, who should immediately contact the Inspection Service, local police, safety office or designated person.
Make sure that damaged or suspicious packages are isolated and the immediate area cordoned off.
If you have opened a suspicious item, you should:
- Isolate the object. Make sure that nobody else goes near the item. If someone did handle it, record who the individual is and the circumstances, then do not let them leave the area. You will need to provide officials with contact information.
- Wash your hands. Anyone who has handled the item needs to wash his or her hands vigorously.
- The Centers For Disease Control have changed their position on placing suspicious items in a plastic bag. During a webcast on Oct.18 they told doctors that people should just put the envelope or package down and walk away before they contact the authorities. The concern is that the act of putting the envelope in a bag could cause the suspicious substance to disperse further into the air.
- Notify local authorities. Have the number of local authorities on hand or dial 911.
- Place all items worn when in contact with the suspected mail piece in plastic bags and make them available to law enforcement agents.
- As soon as practical, shower with soap and water.
- If you are prescribed medication by health workers, take it until it runs out or you are otherwise instructed.
- Call the Center for Disease Control Emergency Response team at 770-488-7100 with questions.
After authorities collect the mail and other items, they will assess the threat situation and coordinate with the FBI. They will also work with designated officials to notify local, county, and state health departments, and the state emergency manager.
- [hclightbox id=”8″ text=”Suspicious Mail Poster”] – U.S. Postal Service Tips
- [hclightbox id=”8″ text=”Picture of Suspicious Mail”]- Place in your workplace with pictures and Suspicious mail guidelines.
- [hclightbox id=”8″ text=”Anthrax Facts”]- What we need to know about anthrax.
- [hclightbox id=”8″ text=”Anthrax”]– What ever Clinician needs to know about anthrax.
- [hclightbox id=”8″ text=”CDC’s Role”]– What is the Clinician needs to know about anthrax.
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