Security Guidelines

Dealing With Situation When Suspected Anthrax Articles Are Received

 

What is Anthrax?

 

Anthrax is an infectious disease caused by a bacteria called “Bacillus anthracis” found in hoofed animals such as sheep, cattle and goats. Infection can be through breathing, eating or contact through an area of broken skin. Symptoms of infection may develop after one day to two months. Anthrax can be used as a biological weapon in a terror attack. In 2001, anonymous letters laced with Anthrax spores were delivered to various locations in the United States, resulting in five deaths and 17 infected.

 

The Police, Singapore Civil Defence Force (SCDF), Ministry of Health (MOH) and Singapore Post have taken precautionary measures to deal with this threat.

To date, there is no positive case of anthrax reported in Singapore.

Frequently Asked Questions:

What do I do if I receive an article suspected of containing anthrax?

  • Call ‘999’ or ‘995’ to inform the Police/SCDF
  • Do not handle the letter or package suspected of contamination. Do not shake or empty the contents of the article.
  • If any of the contents (e.g. powder) has spilled from the article, do not try to clean it up. Cover the area where the powder was spilled with a suitable item (e.g. container) to prevent it from spreading. Do not remove this cover.
  • Switch off fans or ventilation units in the affected area.
  • Leave the room and close the door or block off access into the area to prevent others from coming close to the affected area.
  • Wash your hands with soap and water to prevent further spreading of the powder.
  • Remove contaminated clothing as soon as possible and put them in a plastic bag or a suitable container that can be sealed and have them available for the Police / SCDF.
  • Shower with soap and water as soon as possible. Do not use bleach or other disinfectants on your skin.
  • List the names and contact numbers of all the persons who were in the room or area, especially those who had direct contact with the powder. Provide this list to the Police for follow-up investigations and the issuing of appropriate medical advice/follow-up for individuals who had contact with the powder.

How is anthrax transmitted?

 

Anthrax infection can occur in three forms: breathing, eating or contact through an area of broken skin. Humans can become infected with anthrax by handling products from infected animals or by inhaling anthrax spores from contaminated animal products. Anthrax can also be spread through eating undercooked meat from infected animals. However, it is rare to find infected animals in Singapore.

 

What are the symptoms of Anthrax?

  • Flu-like symptoms

  • Mild chest discomfort

  • Shortness of breath

  • Nausea, vomiting

  • Headache

  • Blisters or lesions on the skin (for cutaneous infection)

What if I exhibit symptoms of Anthrax infection?

 

If you exhibit symptoms, please go to a hospital where appropriate medical advice will be given.

Is there a need for me to take medication if I am exposed to suspected anthrax?

 

The medical authorities will contact you for any treatment if it is confirmed that the suspected content is indeed anthrax. It is not advisable to self-medicate.
 

General Advice When An Evacuation Is Ordered

 

The general steps to take in the event that an evacuation from your house is ordered are as follows:

  • Stay calm. Do not panic.
  • Tune in to the radio or TV for Government or Police advice.
  • Do not pack too much personal belongings. Bring only what is necessary (e.g. medication, milk for babies and personal identification documents) and evacuate in an orderly manner.
  • Make sure that every single person in the household is safely with you as you evacuate.
  • Secure your house.
  • Do not use the lift as they may malfunction.
  • Walk quickly without running. Help the elderly, the young and the disabled along the way.
  • Keep roads or walkways clear for emergency vehicles and rescuers while looking out for them.
  • Follow the direction of the evacuation marshals to the assembly area. In an evacuation in response to a terror attack, leave the area immediately and disperse as quickly as possible in case of secondary attacks.
  • Do not drive your personal vehicle.
  • Call your loved ones at the earliest possible opportunity to tell them that you are safe.

 

Frequently Asked Questions

How do I know that I need to evacuate from my premises if I do not see any disaster myself?

 

You will be alerted by the authorities (Police or SCDF) through any of the following channels:

  • Police or SCDF Officer informing you personally at your doorstep;
  • Broadcast through loud hailer;
  • Broadcast through available mass media; or
  • Public Warning System;

What should I bring when an evacuation occurs?

 

Do not pack too much personal belongings. Bring only what is necessary (e.g. medication, milk for babies and personal identification documents).

How do I know where is the assembly area?

 

There will be evacuation marshals to direct you. Follow the directions given by them and you will be able to reach the assembly area.

Should I use the lift?

 

Avoid using the lift as they may malfunction.

Can I drive my car to the assembly area if it is too far away from my home?

 

Do not drive your personal vehicle as roads need to be kept clear for emergency vehicles and rescuers.

What is the first thing I should do after I leave my home?

You should secure your house.

 

Dealing With Information Of A Security Threat

 

If you receive a phone call about a bomb threat:

  • Do not panic. Stay calm.
  • Verify the source.
  • Signal for someone else to call the Police (‘999’)
  • Do not spread rumours.
  • Do not antagonise or taunt the caller in any way.
  • Continue to engage the caller.
  • Ask the caller for more details such as the identity of the caller, the exact location(s) of the bomb and what the caller hopes to achieve. Try finding out the following:
    • When the bomb will explode;
    • Where the bomb is placed;
    • What type of bomb it is and how it looks like;
    • What will trigger the bomb to explode;
    • If he/she planted the bomb himself/herself and why;
    • What message the caller is trying to convey and to whom; and/or
    • His/Her name and current location.

 

Take particular note of the following:

  • Voice characteristic (e.g. the pitch of the voice, male or female, adult or child).
  • Language used and accent (e.g. whether local or foreign).
  • Articulation (e.g. if the caller speaks fluently or stutters)
  • Manner of speaking (e.g. deliberate, rapid, emotional, angry, calm, obscene language used, intoxicated, laughing or joking).
  • Background noises (e.g. music/voices emitting from restaurant, coffee shop or sounds from moving traffic, announcements).

Identification And Handling Of Suspected Bombs

 

Part I: Identification of letter or parcel bombs

 

The following are some physical characteristics of a letter / parcel bomb:

 

Sight:

  • Excessive use of postage given the weight of the letter or parcel. This is because the sender of the letter bomb will not want it to be weighed and inspected at a post office so he will usually affix more stamps than necessary.
  • Excessive use of securing material such as string and adhesive tape.
  • Use of rigid, or oddly-shaped or sized parcel / letter.
  • Oily stains or discoloration on wrapping material. This is because most explosives are oil-based and tend to leave oily, translucent stains on ordinary paper.
  • Presence of an inner sealed enclosure or container.
  • Wires or aluminium foil protruding from the parcel / letter which become visible upon close inspection.
  • Evidence of pinholes in the envelope containing the letter or wrapping material of parcel. 

 

Sounds:

  • Detection of clock-ticking sound (avoid even gently shaking the parcel) coming from the parcel / letter.

 

Smell:

  • Trace of unusual odour like that of almond or marzipan on the letter or parcel.

 

Touch:

  • Uneven or lopsided weight distribution within the parcel / letter which is usually due to the weight of batteries or explosives.[RO(1] 

 

Part II: Other peculiarities to note:

  • The letter or parcel is addressed to the recipient by name only, or by title only. There are also instances in which the name of the addressee and his postal address are not directly typed or written on the envelope containing the letter or the parcel, but on a piece of paper, which is then pasted onto the envelope or the wrapping material of parcel.
  • The letter or parcel is addressed to a specific person by name with markings (e.g. "Personal", "Private and Confidential" or "To be Opened by Addressee only") to indicate that the addressee should be the only one to open it.
  • There is no return address or name of the sender.
  • There may be spelling errors in the addressee's postal address, name or his designation. These may be written in strange or foreign-looking handwriting.

 

Advice:
If an unexpected or unrequested delivery is received, check with the sender and addressee of the letter or parcel what contents are expected in the letter or parcel.

 

Part III: Dealing with situations where letter / parcel bombs are received:

  • Most letter / parcel bombs delivered through the mail or regular courier will tolerate a fair amount of handling. If you receive a letter / parcel suspected of containing explosives, do not attempt to open it. Most bombs are designed to detonate when the outer wrapping is cut open or torn.
  • Place the suspected letter / parcel bomb in a corner of the room away from windows.
  • Call the Police immediately.
  • Inform the building management and security personnel, providing clear details on the location of the letter / parcel bomb.
  • Evacuate the room and surrounding areas, if necessary, leaving all the doors and windows open. This is to allow the blast, if any, to vent and mitigate the harmful effects of the shattering glass.

 

Part IV: Identification of a suspicious vehicle, which may be laden with explosives:

 

The following are some characteristics of a suspicious vehicle, which may be laden with explosives:

  • Haphazardly parked or abandoned abruptly by the driver at the roadside or next to buildings
  • Being driven around an area repeatedly, including on different occasions.
  • Overly weighted (e.g. with sunken tires and suspensions).
  • Presence of suspicious items inside (e.g. boxes / parcels sticking out with wires).
  • Presence of foreign objects attached under the vehicle or beside the wheels.
  • Signs of being tampered with (e.g. keyhole damaged, windows/doors ajar, drilled holes in car body).
  • It has a new vehicle license plate mounted on an old and dirty vehicle.

 

Frequently Asked Questions

If a letter / parcel I receive only partially fits the above description of the physical characteristics of a bomb, do I treat it as a bomb?

 

If you are not sure and there are reasons to suspect that it is a bomb, treat it as a bomb and alert the Police.

Do I need to evacuate the staff while waiting for police to arrive?

 

You are advised to place the letter / parcel at a corner of the room and evacuate the room, leaving the windows opened.

What should I do if parcels received are not requested or ordered?

 

If an unexpected or unrequested parcel is received, check with the senders and addressee on what contents are expected in the letter or parcel.

Where should I place the parcel if I suspect it is a bomb?

 

You should place the suspicious parcel in a corner of the room away from windows.

What sounds would give away a parcel as a possible bomb?

 

You should try to listen for clock ticking sounds coming from the letter / parcel.

What smells would indicate that a letter / parcel is a possible bomb?

 

The letter / parcel could give off an unusual odour like that of almond or marzipan.

What do I do when I discover a vehicle that may be laden with explosives?

 

Call the Police. Meanwhile, keep other people away from the vehicle.

Do I conduct a check on a vehicle that may be laden with explosives myself?

 

You are advised not to do so. If you suspect a vehicle to be laden with a bomb from your initial observation of the vehicle's external features, do not conduct any further inspection that will cause you to make physical contact with the car. You should keep people away from it and call the Police immediately.

What do I do when I notice a suspicious vehicle being driven away?

 

Take down the vehicle number, vehicle model, description of the driver, and the direction in which it is heading and call the Police. Do not attempt to follow the car.

What do I look out for inside a suspicious vehicle?

 

Without coming into contact with or entering the vehicle, you should try to look out for foreign objects under the dashboard, on the floor, under the seats for partially hidden parcels.

Last Updated on 14 September 2017