Mail Bomb Screening/Response

The following guidelines are offered to help you reduce the possibility of exposure to any terrorist threat that may be posed by mail processing. Any situation that meets the criteria listed below should be reported to Public Safety at 831-2222 in Newark and Wilmington, and 645-4333 in Southern Delaware. Tell them the manner of the threat and the specifics about what is happening and give them your exact location so they can find you.


The following material is provided by the United State Post Office:

The likelihood of your ever receiving a bomb in the mail is remote. Unfortunately, however, a small number of explosive devices have been mailed over the years resulting in death, injury, and destruction of property.

What can you do to help prevent a mail bomb disaster? First, consider whether you or your organization could be a possible target. Some motives for mail bombs include revenge, extortion, love triangles, terrorism, and business disputes. Keep in mind that a bomb can be enclosed in either a package or an envelope, and its outward appearance is limited only by the imagination of the bomber. However, some unique characteristics of mail bombs may assist the identification of a suspect mailing. To apply these characteristics, it is important to know the type of mail your organization or your home receives.

Mail bombs may bear restricted endorsements such as "Personal" or "Private." These characteristics are important when the addressee does not usually receive personal mail at the office.

  • Addressee's name or title may be inaccurate.
  • Return address may be fictitious or not available.
  • Mail bombs may have distorted handwriting or the name and address may be prepared with homemade labels or cut-and-paste lettering.
  • Mail bombs may have protruding wires, aluminum foil, or oil stains and may emit a peculiar odor.
  • Cancellation or postmark may show a different location than the return address.
  • Mail bombs may have excessive postage.
  • Letter bombs may feel rigid, or appear uneven or lopsided.
  • Package bombs may be unprofessionally wrapped with several combinations of tape used to secure the package and may be endorsed.
  • "Fragile-Handle with Care" or "Rush-Do Not Delay."
  • Package bombs may have an irregular shape, soft spots, or bulges.
  • Package bombs may make a sloshing sound. Although placed devices may buzz or tick, mailed bombs generally do not.
  • Pressure or resistance may be noted when removing contents from an envelope or package.


  • Isolate the mailing and evacuate the immediate area.
  • Do not put it in water or a confined space such as a desk drawer or filing cabinet.
  • If possible, open windows in the immediate area to assist in venting potential explosive gases.
  • If you have any reason to believe a letter or package is suspicious, do not take a chance or worry about possible embarrassment if the item turns out to be innocent-instead, contact Public Safety at 9-911 in Newark, 831-2222 in Wilmington and 645-4333 in Southern Delaware for professional assistance.

Modified from USPS Notice 71 - Bombs by Mail Notice 71, February 1998