Guide for Handling & Identifying Mail


Tennessee State Employees' Guidelines for Identifying and Handling Mail Pieces and Packages Suspected of Containing a Threat

A. Characteristics of a suspicious parcel:

  • Unexpected or from someone unfamiliar to you.
  • Addressed to someone no longer with your agency or an otherwise outdated address.
  • No return address or one that cannot be verified as legitimate.
  • Unusual weight, given its size, or lopsided.
  • Restrictive markings such as “Personal” or “Confidential”.
  • Exhibits protruding wires, strange odors or stains.
  • Postmarked from a city which does not match return address.
  • Displays distorted handwriting or addresses with homemade labels or cut and paste lettering.
  • Unprofessionally wrapped or secured with combinations of tape.
  • Excessive postage.

B. What to do if you receive a suspected explosive device:

  • Do not try to open the parcel.
  • Isolate the parcel.
  • Evacuate the immediate area.
  • Notify your supervisor and he/she will notify TEMA (615) 741-0001 or 1-800-262-3300.

C. What to do if you receive an Anthrax threat by mail:

  • Do not handle the mail piece or package suspected of contamination – leave it where it is.
  • Wash your hands with soap and water.
  • Notify your supervisor and Call TEMA (615) 741-0001 or 1-800-262-3300.
  • Make sure that all suspicious packages are isolated and the immediate area cordoned off.
  • Ensure that all persons who have touched the mail piece wash their hands with soap and water.
  • List all persons who have touched the letter and/or envelope; include contact information.
  • If the package or letter has been opened and powder spills out, DO NOT ATTEMPT TO CLEAN IT UP. KEEP OTHERS AWAY FROM THE AREA. TEMA will coordinate the response and notify all necessary emergency and law enforcement agencies.

Diagram and Drawing of Suspicious-Looking Package