Do you know what to do if you receive a bomb threat over the phone? Or in the form of a suspicious letter or parcel?
Singapore’s tight security is not to be taken for granted and it’s important to be vigilant and alert.
Here’s how you can do your part by being aware and informed.
How do I even know if it’s a dangerous bomb threat?
Terrorist attacks or sabotage in this day and age may come in many forms.
1) They could be an explosive or incendiary items which are delivered (such as a letter or package in the mail or delivered by hand). Letter bombs are designed to kill or maim the person who is opening them while a larger parcel bomb could cause structural damage with the same effects as having a bomb planted within the building.
2) Or they could be an improvised incendiary devices to create a fire, or an improvised explosive device (such as a homemade bomb) left in or outside the building. Hand-carried devices like these are likely to be left in public places or places that people can have simple access to. A bomb like this kind can kill or maim anyone close to the seat of the blast, inflict injury to people and damage to properties in the vicinity.
3) Vehicle-borne devices are also becoming more common in such incidents around the world. The vehicle can be a car, van or lorry, and it is often a convenient device to carry and hide the explosives.
What do I do if I see a suspicious object or an unexploded bomb in public?
1) Remain calm and rationale.
2) Call 999 immediately and report it to the police. You should provide details such as the shape, size, colour and location of the suspected bomb, and try to establish the identity of the persons and owners of the parcel(s) or vehicle(s) by noting their characteristics.
– For parcels, describe their shape, size, packaging and markings
– For vehicles, describe their colour, make, model registration number and special markings
– For people, describe their gender, height, attire, behaviour and what they are carrying
3) Do not touch or move the suspected bomb.
4) Move away from it and warn people in the area to stay away from the suspected bomb.
5) Do not conduct any further inspection on your own that will cause you to make physical contact with the object or vehicle.
6) The person who found the device must stay until the police arrives to brief them on the exact location and description.
7) If you 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 report the details to the police. Do not try to follow the car.
In addition, if you have reasons to suspect you’ve received a suspicious and unexpected letter or parcel:
1) Check with the senders and addressee on what contents are expected in the letter or parcel.
What do I do if I receive a nasty bomb threat over the phone?
1. Stay calm. Do not panic.
2. If possible, signal for someone nearby to dial 999 to make a police report immediately and inform the building management staff if you can.
3. Keep the caller talking for as long as possible to buy time and try to take note of the exact words used by the caller in the threat.
4. Try to find out from the caller:
• 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
• His/her name and current location
5. Take note of how the caller sounds, for example:
• Caller’s vocal characteristics (such as a voice of a man, woman or child, possible age, etc)
• Language used and accent
• Articulation (Does the caller speak fluently or stutter?)
• Tone of voice (Is he/she emotional, angry or calm?)
• Background noises, such as sounds of traffic, music, announcements, etc.
6. Be polite and do not antagonise or taunt the caller in any way.
7. Lastly, do not spread rumours.
But what if it is just a prank?
Report it to the police anyway. Telephone bomb threats and hoaxes are still a crime (last month, a man was jailed for threatening to bomb a house in Singapore) and do not rule out the possibility of a genuine bomb threat call from a terrorist or criminal.
For more important tips on what to do in an emergency in Singapore, refer to the Civil Defence Emergency Handbook. It is best to be prepared for the unexpected, and you can start by having these essential emergency numbers in Singapore and registering with your home country’s embassy in Singapore.
By Muneerah Bee, September 2016