Bomb threats are quite rare, but they should always be taken seriously until the threat has been proved fraudulent. How quickly and safely you react to a bomb threat could save lives, including your own. Most bomb threats are made by phone, and this is why it’s important to have a bomb threat check list posted near telephones in your place of business.
Keeping the caller on the line as long as possible is an invaluable tactic when dealing with a bomb threat call. By keeping them on the line and talking, the listener can glean more information such as the caller’s gender, accent, background sounds (e.g., animals, office or factory machinery, street noise), type of threat language (e.g., incoherent, taped message, well-spoken), estimated age, as well as other characteristics that can help law enforcement. After the caller has terminated the call, immediately call 911 and give them as much detail as you gathered.
The Department of Homeland Security has a bomb threat checklist that can be downloaded and placed near phones.
The Department of Homeland Security says the following about bomb threats:
What should you do?
- Remain calm.
- Call 9-1-1 immediately and report a bomb threat to local law enforcement providing as much detail as you can.
- Follow law enforcement instructions.
- Evacuate the area and seek protective cover from the bomb and potential debris—these are the best ways to avoid injury.
- Do NOT approach or inspect suspicious items or unattended packages.
- Do NOT congregate near the incident scene as onlookers may impede first responders and law enforcement.
Bomb threats are one of those issues that most people ignore because they are so rare and will probably never happen in their place of work. While it may be true that the probability of a bomb going off at your place of work or school is minimal, it doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t prepare for it and have a plan in place. An evacuation for a bomb threat looks very similar to a fire evacuation; practicing your evacuation routes and procedures as well as posting the bomb threat checklist by phones and training your employees on its use are easy steps to take.