How to Respond to Suspicious Mail and Threat Letters or Packages Potentially Contaminated with Anthrax or Other Biological Materials

All campus personnel should maintain an enhanced awareness of receipt of suspicious letters or packages. Some common things to look for include:

  • Packages with no return address or excessive postage.
  • Return address that does not match the postmark.
  • Misspellings of common words or restrictive markings such as “personal” or “confidential”.
  • Items protruding from the envelope or package, wet areas, openings, or strange odors.
  • Unusually heavy envelope and/or the presence of small bulges of powder or granules.

If you are concerned about a particular envelope or package, DO NOT OPEN IT. Handle with care and do not shake or bump. Call x2222 (if on campus) or 911 (if at an off campus location) and inform the dispatcher that you have a suspicious envelope or package.

If you open an envelope or package and you find a letter that contains a threatening message or states that you have been contaminated with anthrax or some other biological substance, and no substance is found:

  • Replace the letter in the envelope and place the envelope in a plastic bag.
  • Wash your hands with soap and water.
  • Call 911 or x2222, remain at your work location, and wait for emergency responders to arrive.

If you open an envelope or package and you observe some type of powder:

  • Slowly and carefully place the letter back in the envelope and put the envelope in a plastic bag if possible and seal it.
  • If a plastic bag is unavailable, place the envelope on a counter or floor and cover the envelope with an empty garbage or recycling container. Do not show other people.
  • Immediately wash your hands with soap and water.
  • Call 911 or x2222 immediately to report the incident, and remain in place to assist emergency responders.

If any powder spills out of the envelope or package:

  • Do not clean it up yourself, and prevent others from contacting it.
  • Do not brush off your clothes and disperse the powder into the air.
  • Wash your hands with soap and water.
  • Call 911 or x2222, inform the emergency dispatcher of the incident, and what steps you have taken.
    If possible, shower with soap and water and put on fresh clothing.

If there is a small explosion or release of an aerosol spray from a package:

  • Vacate the space immediately and prevent others from entering.
  • Call 911 or x2222 immediately and remain on the premises to provide information to emergency responders.
  • Treat yourself and your clothing as in #4, above.

People who may have been present in the room, but did not directly contact the letter or substance, are at minimal risk for exposure. Individuals not in the room at the time when the envelope or package was opened are not at risk.

Mail Room


Hours: 8 a.m. - 4 p.m. Monday through Friday

Hamilton-Williams Campus Center, lower level
Ohio Wesleyan University
61 S. Sandusky St.
Delaware, OH 43015
P 740-368-3390

Staff Contact

Diana Brooks
Mail Room Coordinator