Suspicious packages

If you come across an unusual item in an area that is very familiar to you, do not touch it. Instead, take the following steps.

Determine if the package is suspicious

A suspicious package is an object that has one or more of the following characteristics:

  • excessive postage
  • improper labeling
  • misspellings
  • incorrect titles
  • suspicious symbols
  • no names
  • no return address
  • return address does not match postmark
  • return address cannot be verified
  • labels like “foreign mail,” “air mail,” or “special delivery”
  • excessive securing with tape, string, or other material
  • strange odors
  • stains or discolorations
  • presence of unknown powder or liquid
  • ticking sounds
  • protruding wires or aluminum foil
  • other visual distractions or anomalies

DO NOT TOUCH ANY PACKAGE you consider to be suspicious!

Take immediate action

When you encounter a suspicious package, proceed with caution through the following steps:

  • Without touching or handling the package, quickly make a mental note of its location and characteristics so you can describe it to MIT Campus Police, Emergency Response Team personnel, or fire department personnel.
  • Immediately leave the room in which the package is located, and instruct others to do the same.
  • Shut the door and move to a nearby safe location where you can use a phone.
  • Dial 617-253-1212 on your cell phone or x100 on an internal MIT phone to speak with Campus Police (do not use your cell phone in the vicinity of the package).
  • Prevent anyone from entering the room after it has been vacated.
  • Wash your hands immediately and instruct anyone who may have come in contact with the package or its contents to do the same. If possible, have an uncontaminated person open doors for you until you have washed your hands.
  • Remain close to the scene, and meet response unit personnel when they arrive.
  • An incident commander from the response unit will take charge of the scene. Follow the instructions of the incident commander until the situation is resolved.

More emergency management information

The MIT Security and Emergency Management Office (SEMO) coordinates the Institute’s technology and resources for responding to and recovering from campus incidents. Visit the SEMO portal for details on emergency preparedness, fire safety, and general safety issues or to download the Emergency Plan Preparedness template.

Helpful links

  • Connect to MIT Alert, the Institute’s emergency notification system.
  • Check the MIT Emergency website for the current status of emergencies at or affecting the Institute.
  • Review the Emergency Response Guide for a summary of emergency procedures to be used in both laboratory and non-laboratory spaces.