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In response to widespread concern about possible links between reported cases of anthrax and international terrorism, it seems prudent to provide information describing what constitutes suspicious mail and to describe the process by which such mail should be handled by individuals on the Smith campus. In the meantime, remain calm. Smith has a plan in place to deal with threats to the health or safety of the community.

      10 Things You Need to Know About Anthrax >>

What constitutes a suspicious letter or parcel?

Characteristics that should trigger suspicion include letters or parcels that:

Are unexpected or from someone unfamiliar to you

Have no return address or have one that can't be verified as legitimate

Are of unusual weight, given their size or are lopsided or oddly shaped

Are marked with restrictive endorsements, such as "personal" or "confidential"

Have protruding wires, strange odors or stains or emit a ticking sound

Show a city or state in the postmark that does not match the return address

Show signs of the presence of a powdery substance.

What should I do if I receive such a parcel or letter?

Central services and student mail center personnel are being trained to handle suspicious mail that comes from off-campus.

Do not touch it, or allow others to touch it or move it.

Call the Smith College Office of Public Safety, ext. 2490.

Monitor the area until the arrival of Public Safety personnel to insure that others do not come into contact with the suspicious object.

Officers will retrieve the item and follow procedures in compliance with Northampton Police and Fire department protocol.

How likely is it that someone would receive a harmful chemical substance in the mail?

The U.S. Postal Service reports that it delivers approximately 208 billion pieces of mail per year. Presently there have been only a handful of confirmed incidents of anthrax bacteria being sent through the mail.

Until there is more clarity about how anthrax spores are being transmitted through the mail, all workers, including students, in the Student Post Office and Central Services will wear gloves while processing incoming mail. Masks are provided but their use is voluntary. Traffic in the mail-handling area of Central Services will be restricted to essential personnel. Customers are asked to remain in front of the service counter in the lobby and not to enter the work area through the front or rear doors. Signs will be posted.

Those who handle mail in other areas of the campus may also wish to use gloves and masks. Gloves and masks are being made available through Central Stores at extension 2435.

Is there something I can do to the mail I send, on-campus and off, that will ensure that others know it is safe to open?

Be sure to put your name and return address on envelopes or parcel wrapping.

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