Explosions may be caused by chemical accidents, gas leaks or intentional terrorist acts. Terrorists frequently use explosive devices as one of their most common weapons since they are highly portable and easily detonated from remote locations. Such devices can be made using information readily available in books and other information sources.

Chemical build up or gas leaks have caused explosions at industrial sites or manufacturing facilities. While conventional bombs have been used to damage or destroy political, social and religious institutions. Learn what to do if you receive a bomb threat, get a suspicious package or could be impacted by an explosion at an industrial site. Preparing for such events will reduce the stress that you may feel now and help you prepare for the unexpected.

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Before an Explosion

  • Keep your emergency kit filled with food that will not go bad and bottled water. You may be asked to stay indoors and shut off any air circulation to the outside.
  • Make a family emergency plan. Know how you will get in touch with your family members and where you would meet in an emergency.

Bomb Threat

If you receive a telephoned bomb threat, get as much information from the caller as possible. Try to ask the following questions:

  • When is the bomb going to explode?
  • Where is it right now?
  • What does it look like?
  • What kind of bomb is it?
  • What will cause it to explode?
  • Did you place the bomb?

Keep the caller on the line and record everything that is said.

Tell the police and building management as quickly as you can.

Suspicious Packages

Be wary of suspicious packages and letters. They can contain explosives, chemical or biological agents. Be particularly cautious at your place of employment. Some things that should cause you to be suspicious are packages that:

  • Are unexpected or from someone you don’t know.
  • Have no return address or a return address that can’t be checked out as a real address.
  • Are marked as “Personal,” “Confidential” or “Do not X-ray.”
  • Have wires that stick out or aluminum foil, strange odors or stains.
  • Show a city or state in the postmark that doesn’t match the return address.
  • Are of an odd weight given their size or are crooked or oddly shaped.
  • Are marked with threatening words or phrases.
  • Have wrong or different labeling.
  • Have too much postage or packaging material, such as masking tape and string.
  • Have misspellings of common words.
  • Are addressed to someone who no longer works with your group or are otherwise outdated.
  • Have wrong titles or titles without a name.
  • Are not addressed to a specific person.
  • Have hand-written or poorly typed addresses.

With suspicious envelopes and packages other than those that might contain explosives, take these extra steps against possible biological and chemical agents.

  • Try not to eat or drink in a chosen mail handling area.
  • Place envelopes or packages that you are uncertain of in a plastic bag or container to keep it from leaking. Never sniff or smell unknown mail.
  • If you do not have a container, then cover the envelope or package with anything available (e.g., clothing, paper, trash can, etc.). Do not take the cover off.
  • Leave the room and close the door. You also can section off the area to keep others from entering.
  • Wash your hands with soap and water to keep any powder from getting to your face.
  • If you are at work, tell security or your boss about the event. Tell the police and other authorities without delay.
  • List all people who were in the room or area when this suspicious letter or package was known. Give a copy of this list to both the local public health authorities and police for follow-up questions and advice.
  • If you are at home, report the event to local police.

During an Explosion

  • Get under a sturdy table or desk.
  • Leave the building as quickly as possible. 
    • Crawl low if there is smoke.
    • Watch for falling debris.
    • Do not stop to get your stuff or make phone calls.
  • Do not use elevators.
  • Check for fire and other dangers.
  • Once you are out, do not stand in front of windows, glass doors or other possible dangerous areas.
  • Move away from sidewalks or streets to be used by emergency officials or others still exiting the building.
  • If you are trapped in debris, use a flashlight, if possible, to signal your location to rescuers.
  • Tap on a pipe or wall so rescuers can hear where you are.
  • If possible, use a whistle to signal rescuers.
  • Shout only as a last resort. Shouting can cause a person to breathe in dangerous amounts of dust.
  • Try not to move a lot, so you don’t kick up dust.
  • Cover your nose and mouth with anything you have on hand. (Dense-weave cotton material can act as a good filter. Try to breathe through the material.)

After an Explosion

Think about the list below after an explosion:

  • There may be many deaths or people hurt.
  • There also could be damage to buildings and the infrastructure. Employers need up-to-date information about any of your medical needs and on how to contact your chosen beneficiaries.
  • Police (local, state and federal) are heavily involved because of the event's criminal nature.
  • Health and mental health resources in the affected areas can be limited or even overwhelmed.
  • Widespread media coverage, strong public fear and international effects can go on for a long time.
  • Workplaces and schools may be closed. There may be limits on domestic and international travel.
  • You and your family or household may have to leave an area. Stay away from roads blocked for your safety.
  • Clean-up may take many months.

More Information

More information on explosions can be found at:

Listen to Local Officials

Learn about the emergency plans that have been made in your area by your state and local government. In any emergency, always listen to the orders given by local emergency management officials.