How to Handle a Bomb Threat in the Workplace

Ken Walker

bomb threat in the workplace illustration of the type that could be expected

The bomb threat is one of the most widespread and easiest modus operandi related to terrorism, primarily due to the impact it generates. The majority of attacks with explosive devices take place without prior warning. And most of the bomb threats are a hoax, but you should know how to handle it in your workplace. In this article, we show you the action protocol to follow during and after a bomb warning, whether it is a real threat or not.

How to handle a bomb threat?

It is difficult to define a reliable action protocol that allows us to detect whether a threat is real, credible, and plausible, or instead, it is a false threat or a bad joke. In fact, if such an action protocol existed, bombers could use it to their own advantage whenever they wanted.

Therefore, there is no reliable system to detect false alarms from actual incidents accurately. In short, when faced with any bomb threat, three alternative decisions can be made:

• Not paying attention and continuing with activities as if the threat had never taken place.
• Carry out an indiscriminate evacuation, without carrying out any verification or contrast of the threat.
• Consider the threat possibly truthful and act preventively.
According to terrorism experts, from both the police and the military, the third option is best.

During the bomb threat warning:

If the threat is communicated in writing:

• Avoid manipulating the paper, email, or support (recorder, CD, etc.) and the container (envelope, box, computer, etc.).
• Immediately make a call to the Police (in the case of a company, also call the Security Department), providing them with all the information verbally. If they request it, send them the audio, video, and a photograph of the message and package received so that they have as much information as possible to assess the threat and to advise you on what to do.
• Until receiving clear instructions from the Police or the Security Department, preserve the content and container of the message (preventing other people from altering, manipulating, or destroying it). When the Police or security personnel arrive, provide them with all the information and follow the POLICE instructions.

bomb threat being made by a telephone or mobile phone

If the communication of the threat is made by telephone (this is the most used means):

The essential thing is to prolong the call as much as possible, extract as much relevant information as possible and write it down objectively and reliably:

• Keep in mind that the seconds that the call lasts may be the only contact that is maintained with the caller, hence the importance that all information is collected accurately.
• Concentrate on maintaining control to provide valuable data to the Police. On the contrary, the information you collect will surely be misrepresented and may lead to confusion, misunderstanding, and possibly a bad decision that has an undesired impact on people.

It is important to keep in mind that this phone call will be the only contact with the bombers, the only possibility where essential data can be obtained to decide whether the threat is real or not correctly. If this call is answered correctly, more data can be obtained than the simple warning and, although it may seem strange, many times, the person who makes the threat will answer questions since he may be inexperienced.

bomb treat checklist in use

Bomb Threat checklist:

With these objectives, if a telephone threat occurs, as a minimum, you should immediately follow the following action protocol:
• Connect the call recording system (if any).
• Press the emergency button to obtain security assistance (if available).
• Write down the exact hour and minute of the call.
• Note the exact location of the bomb, if necessary, by asking the caller as many times as necessary to specify the specific point.
• Record the expected time of the explosion.
• Ask and write down the appearance of the device (briefcase, sports bag, backpack, vehicle, etc.)
• Depending on the security protocols in force in your organization, call the Police or the Security Department directly, providing them with the information collected.

It is important to find out as much as possible about the person making the call. The longer the person remains on the phone, the greater the information that can be provided to the Police afterward.
In addition, if calls are not recorded for subsequent investigations, it is necessary to pay attention to details such as the accent of the person making the call, their sex or ambient noises (machinery, music, conversations, etc.) To know more about the bomb threat checklist, check the details here.


After receiving the bomb warning, either in writing or by telephone, the Police and the Security Department must be notified, depending on who is established to be the interlocutor in each case with the Police.
While waiting for instructions from the Police or the Security Department, it is advisable:
1. Preserve the content and container of the bomb warning message.
2. Proceed to review those places where there is a greater risk of placing explosive devices, which are usually the most accessible places or common areas such as the lobby, corridors, stairs, bathrooms, and parking lots, both in person and through the video surveillance cameras.
3. When the Police or security personnel arrive, inform them of the circumstances in which the call has occurred, specifying all the known characteristics, the places that have been reviewed before their arrival, and guiding them through the building for inspection or checks deem appropriate.
4. If the police consider the threat credible, it will be necessary to evacuate all the facilities in an orderly manner and based on the provisions of the Emergency Plan or Self-Protection Plan.
5. If the Police conclude the search and leave the area or building considering the threat negative, normal activities will continue.

Security staff should streamline the evacuation, prevent panic, and be the last to leave the premises to ensure the following:
1. That the eviction is being carried out in an orderly, calm manner and at the places planned.
2. Prevent the use of elevators and hoists.
3. Disconnect the electrical equipment, light, and gas in your area and are not of vital importance.
4. Let there be no one inside.
5. Form a safety cordon so that no one gets near the danger area, which must be clear of people.
6. Collaborate with the police as much as possible.

Bottom Line:

The more knowledge about the action protocol, the fewer victims there will be, and the more resilient our society will be in this specific type of modus operandi and the threat of terrorism in general. If you find this article interesting and useful, we ask you to contribute to creating a culture of safety by forwarding this article to the people around you.

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