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  • If You See Something, Say Something

    By Jenette Lee

    Across the country, we share everyday moments with our neighbors, family, coworkers and friends. We go to work or school, the grocery store or the gas station. As our day unfolds, it's easy to overlook when something doesn't seem quite right. 

    In 2010, the Department of Homeland Security began the “If You See Something, Say Something” campaign, which works with partners year-round to empower and educate the public on suspicious activity and how to report it.

    “If You See Something, Say Something” is more than a slogan. It’s how each of us can play an active role to protect ourselves, our loved ones and our communities. As a member of the critical infrastructure community, we encourage all employees to build awareness in the workplace and community about what suspicious activity is and how to report it.

    • Report suspicious activity and threats of violence (including online activity) to your supervisor or, if outside of work, to local law enforcement.
    • Recognize the signs of suspicious activity. If you see something, say something. 
    • Be responsible for your personal safety. Make note of your surroundings and security personnel. Carry emergency contact as well as medical and other needs information with you.
    • Stay informed. Local, state and federal agencies will provide specific information about emerging threats as additional information is identified. The public is encouraged to listen to local law enforcement and public safety officials. 

    One aspect of awareness promoted by the campaign is the identification of suspicious or unattended items. A suspicious item is any item (e.g., bag, package, vehicle, etc.) that is reasonably believed to contain explosives, an improvised explosive device (IED), or other hazardous material that requires a bomb technician and/or specialized equipment to further evaluate it. Examples that could indicate a bomb include unexplainable wires or electronics, other visible bomb-like components, and unusual sounds, vapors, mists, or odors. 

    Suspicious items should always be taken seriously. How quickly and safely you react to such a threat could save lives, including your own. So, what do you need to know in order to respond to suspicious items in a calm and professional manner? 

    • CISA has created an overview of what you need to know to determine whether an item is suspicious (potential bomb) or simply unattended. The video, which can be found here, will help you prepare and react appropriately when confronted with a suspicious item.
    • Generally speaking, anything that is Hidden, Obviously suspicious, and not Typical (H.O.T.) should be deemed suspicious. In addition, potential indicators for a bomb are threats, placement and proximity of the item to people and valuable assets.

    Every situation is unique and should be handled in the context of the facility or environment in which it occurs. For more information on suspicious items and how you can prepare to respond to threats to your facility, visit the Emergency Response and Planning SharePoint FEAP page.

    Additional Links

    Recognize the Signs poster
    H.O.T. poster