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Insight from WFPD: Careful handling of suspicious items a must for safety sake

A number of incidents recently reported in the news illustrate the importance of proper response to suspicious items.

In the local area, a man purchased a military munitions which he transported home and to his place of work. Not knowing the item to have been made inert, he called authorities. The Red River Bomb Squad responded and retrieved the item. The Bomb Squad was unable to determine the item to be considered safe. The item is presently stored in a secured bunker and scheduled for destruction.

Near Mandan a man found an item he believed to be a homemade explosive device. He picked the item up and transported it to the Mandan Police Department. He carried the item into the building to have an officer identify it. The officer ordered an evacuation of a portion of the building and contacted the local bomb squad. The bomb squad retrieved the item and later rendered it safe.

On an Army Post an officer walked by a paper bag sitting on the lawn outside his office. He thought the item to be suspicious. He picked the bag up and carried it into the building. He and his fellow workers quickly began feeling ill from the odor emanating from the bag. The building was evacuated and emergency responders were contacted. The emergency responders removed the item and ventilated the building.

The proper identification and handling of suspicious items can help avoid serious injury and even death. If you find an item which you know or suspect to be dangerous do not move or disturb the item. Observe the item from a safe distance and note size, shape, color and descriptive markings visible on the item. You will need to provide a detailed description of the item to emergency responders. Note the item's specific location. Do not use any electronic device in the area near the item. Mark the area near the item to visually warn others who may inadvertently approach the item. Move a safe distance away and call 911. Remain in the area to verbally warn others away from the item and to speak to emergency responders.

Each year people are killed or injured while improperly handling dangerous items. The best practice to avoid becoming a victim is to follow your instincts. If you suspect an item to be dangerous, leave it alone, and call 911. When it comes to handling suspicious items, what you don't know may kill you.

Don't take the risk. Make the call.