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Security Information

The University leadership closely monitors any reports of suspicious activity and packages on the campus. Many facilities in communities around the country have received reports of suspicious mail and packages. Fortunately, there are no confirmed cases of hazardous materials on this campus. Campus Public Safety and the appropriate authorities are prepared and respond to individual calls and evaluate them as appropriate. While no single recommendation can cover all circumstances, the following recommendations should apply to most situations. The most recent information will always be posted on the University Hotline, 305-284-5151 for Coral Gables, 305-361-4888 for the Marine School, 305-243-6079 for the Medical School, or for general information you can access any of the following web sites:

Suspicious Packages/Envelopes

Although a package could contain a biological, chemical, or explosive agent, the likelihood is remote. Experience demonstrates that most are a hoax. We must use common sense. The fact that you receive a package without a return address is no reason in itself to be alarmed, particularly if you are accustomed to getting those types of package from a known sender. However, it is our responsibility to remain vigilant and treat packages that you find suspicious as if there is a real threat.

Staff responsible for incoming mail should be especially vigilant.

What is a suspicious package?

A good rule of thumb to use when evaluating a package would be, “Is it unusual, considering normal incoming mail and packages?” The following are some indicators that may help you in this evaluation:

  • Grease stains or discoloration on paper
  • Strange odors
  • Lopsided or uneven envelope
  • Protruding wires or tinfoil
  • Excessive securing material such as masking tape, string, etc.
  • Excessive weight
  • Wrapped in brown paper with twine
  • No return address
  • Insufficient or excessive postage
  • Return address and postmark are not from same area
  • Foreign mail
  • Restrictive markings such as Confidential, Personal, or Hand Delivery
  • Hand written or poorly typed addresses
  • Incorrect titles
  • Titles but no names
  • Misspellings of common words
  • Is addressee familiar with name and address of sender?
  • Is addressee expecting package/letter?

Opened Package

If you have opened a package containing a threat, powder, or unknown substance or have handled an unopened package with a substance spilling out of or bleeding through:
  • Place it down gently at the location where you opened or touched it. Try to keep the substance from becoming airborne. Do not shake or empty the contents of the package.
  • You may place the package and contents in a zip-lock style plastic bag if available.
  • Do not move the package from its current location.
  • Leave the room and close the windows and doors behind you. Move to an area that will minimize your exposing others.
  • If possible, wash your hands with soap and water to prevent spreading any powder to your face.
  • Immediately contact Public Safety or Security for your Campus:
    • Coral Gables 305-284-6666
    • Medical 305-243-6000
    • RSMAS 305-710-7991
  • Do not allow others to enter the area.
  • Campus Public Safety will notify the appropriate agencies and University departments depending on the situation.
  • List the names and telephone numbers of all the people present in the room or area when this suspicious letter or package was opened. Give this list to the law enforcement officers when they arrive.
  • Remain calm. Exposure does not mean that you will become sick. Emergency responders, Public Health officials and/or Environmental Health and Safety will provide specific information and instructions.
  • Depending on your situation, responding emergency personnel may ask you to shower and change clothes. It is important to place contaminated clothing in a sealable plastic bag for analysis and evidence.
  • Testing of individuals exposed to an unknown substance for an infectious agent by use of nasal swabs or blood tests is usually not appropriate until Health Department tests results are available.
  • There is no need for any decontamination of individuals who have not had direct contact with the letter or package that contains an unknown substance.
  • Should any tests be required, the results will be reported to individuals as soon as they are known, either by Environmental Health and Safety or appropriate Public Health official.

Unopened Package

If the suspicious package is unopened with no leakage, spillage or bleeding:

  • You may place the package and contents in a zip-lock style sealable plastic bag if one is available.
  • Contact Public Safety or Security for your campus immediately:
    • Coral Gables 305-284-6666
    • Medical 305-243-6000
    • RSMAS 305-710-7991
  • Campus Public Safety will notify the appropriate agencies and university departments depending on the situation.
  • Individuals that may have been exposed will be contacted as soon as any test results are known.
Should you have any additional questions please call Environment Health and Safety at 305-243-3400.