The Office for Bombing Prevention (OBP) leads the Department of Homeland Securityâ€™s (DHS) efforts to implement the National Policy for Countering Improvised Explosive Devices (National
Counter-IED policy) and enhance the nationâ€™s ability to prevent,
protect against, respond to, and mitigate the use of explosives against
critical infrastructure; the private sector; and federal, state, local,
tribal, and territorial entities.
It's important to know what steps every day citizens can and should take in the event of a bomb threat.
Together we can help keep our communities safe—if you see something that is suspicious, out of place, or doesn't look right, say something. (Find out more about the 'If You See Something, Say Something®' campaign.) A suspicious item is any item (e.g., bag, package, vehicle, etc.) that is reasonably believed to contain explosives, an improvised explosive device (IED), or other hazardous material that requires a bomb technician and/or specialized equipment to further evaluate it. Examples that could indicate a bomb include unexplainable wires or electronics, other visible bomb-like components, and unusual sounds, vapors, mists, or odors. Generally speaking, anything that is Hidden, Obviously suspicious, and not Typical (HOT) should be deemed suspicious. In addition, potential indicators for a bomb are threats, placement, and proximity of the item to people and valuable assets.
NOTE: Not all items are suspicious. An unattended item is an item (e.g., bag, package, vehicle, etc.) of unknown origin and content where there are no obvious signs of being suspicious (see above). Facility search, lock-down, or evacuation is not necessary unless the item is determined to be suspicious.
You may encounter a suspicious item unexpectedly or while conducting a search as part of your facility's or employer’s Bomb Threat Response Plan. If it appears to be a suspicious item, follow these procedures:
Every situation is unique and should be handled in the context of the facility or environment in which it occurs. Facility supervisors and law enforcement will be in the best position to determine if a real risk is posed and how to respond.
Having a plan in advance makes the response to bomb threats, unattended items, or suspicious items as orderly and controlled as possible, reducing risk and the impact of false alarms on regular activities. Facility supervisors—such as school, office, or building managers responsible for the facility—should:
Developed in partnership with the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS)-Department of Justice (DOJ) Bomb Threat Guidance is a quick reference guide that provides facility supervisors with details on pre-threat preparation, threat assessment, staff response guidelines, and evacuation and shelter-in-place considerations. Download the DHS-DOJ Bomb Threat Guidance for more information.
School-specific bomb threat guidance can also be found at ThreatPlan.org and the Readiness and Emergency Management for Schools (REMS) Technical Assistant Center.
Whether the bomb threat is made via phone, handwritten note, email, or other means, the DHS Bomb Threat Checklist provides instructions on how to respond to a bomb threat and a comprehensive list of information that will assist law enforcement in a bomb threat investigation.