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Emergency Procedures: Suspicious Package

Consider the specific circumstances when evaluating the following signs. The presence of one characteristic may not necessarily mean a package is dangerous, but if in doubt, call USC Police.

  • Remain calm
  • Stay away from the package
  • DO NOT allow anyone to handle or go near the package
  • If a suspicious package is discovered while handling, avoid dropping, throwing, or any other abrupt movement; gently set the package down in a secluded area that has been evacuated
  • DO NOT use any cell phones, radios, or other wireless devices around the package

Call USC Police at 911 (emergency) or at 803-777-4215 (non-emergency) depending on the situation

  • State the location of the package and provide a description
  • Stay on the phone until released by the dispatcher
  • If you touched the package, immediately wash your hands, arms, etc. with soap and water for 15 minutes


  • Package or envelope with suspicious powdery substance
  • Unexpected package sent by someone unfamiliar to you
  • Excessive postage
  • Poorly written or typed address
  • Incorrect title(s) with no names
  • Misspelling of common words or names
  • Addressed to someone no longer at the address
  • Outdated postmarks
  • No return address or one that can’t be identified as legitimate
  • Return address not consistent with postmark
  • Unusual weight, given package size; lopsided; or oddly shaped
  • Unusual amount of tape, string, or other wrapping material
  • Marked with restrictive labels like “fragile,” “personal,” “confidential,” or “rush-do-not-delay”
  • Strange odor, stains, or noises (i.e. rattling, clicking, ticking, etc.)
  • Appears to contain electrical wire or aluminum foil
  • Mailed from foreign country unfamiliar to recipient
Columbia, SC 29208 803-777-7000
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