Suspicious packages are any items capable of concealing or containing harmful substances that have been left unattended or visibly show indicators of posing a potential threat.


  • Marked with any threatening language
  • Strange return address or no return address
  • Postmarked from a city or state that does not match the return address
  • Not addressed to a specific person
  • Incorrect titles or title without a name
  • Misspellings of common words
  • Excessive postage
  • Handwritten or poorly typed addresses
  • Marked with restrictions, such as “Personal,” “Confidential” or “Do Not X-ray”

Key Appearances

  • Ticking sound and/or protruding wires or aluminum foil
  • Oily stains
  • Discolorations
  • Odor
  • Excessive packaging material
  • Excessive weight

Items such as briefcases, gym bags, suitcases, etc., may be deemed suspicious solely because they are discovered unattended in a public place or near a sensitive facility.

What to Do with a Suspicious Package

  • Remain calm.
  • Do not use radios or cell phones near the suspicious package.
  • Call 911 or the University Police at 205-726-2020.
  • Isolate the area and evacuate everyone from the immediate area.
  • Do not touch, move or attempt to clean up unknown material.
  • If you had contact with unknown material, thoroughly wash your hands with soap and warm water, and shower with soap and warm water as soon as possible.
  • Do not use bleach or other disinfectants.
  • Provide a list of everyone who may have come into contact with unknown material to emergency personnel.