Bomb Threats and Discovered Devices - Information & Procedure

Bomb threats are normally made over the telephone to an unsuspecting person and are primarily intended to disrupt and cause chaos. Historically, threats have strictly been threats, and usually that is all the caller intends.

Making a false bomb threat is a federal offense and punishable under U.S. Code, Title 18, Part I, Chapter 40, section 844(e), with a penalty of up to ten years in prison, $250,000 fine, or both. This penalty also applies to juvenile offenders.

When a bomb threat is called in, record all the pertinent information using the bomb threat checklist.

  • Do not hang up the telephone. This is extremely important in conducting an investigation and in possibly locating the caller.
  • Be calm, be courteous and listen. Do not interrupt the initial message of the caller. If possible, notify your supervisor immediately by a pre-arranged signal while the caller is on the line.
  • Call 911 from any UAB telephone. If you use a cell phone, dial 934-3535.
  • Do not advise anyone else of the threat except for your immediate supervisor.
  • Stay calm and wait for the arrival of the Police. They will consider the facts and conduct a complete investigation.
UAB Police will evaluate the threat and determine if an immediate evacuation of the building(s) is required. If an immediate evacuation is not required, UAB Police will continue to evaluate the threat and in consultation with UAB Administration determine if an evacuation of the building(s) is required.

If you find a potential device, or are advised of a potential location of a device, immediately call the UAB Police. Don't touch or move the device.

If you suspect a letter bomb, follow the same procedure for finding a possible or real device.
Compressed gas cylinders of all shapes and sizes are used all over campus for everything from welding to research. There are two types of hazards associated with the use, storage and handling of compressed gas cylinders: the chemical hazard associated with the cylinder contents (corrosive, toxic, flammable, etc.) and the physical hazards represented by the presence of a high pressure vessel in the laboratory.

Some cylinders can be pressurized up to 2,200 pounds per square inch (psi). If the cylinder is improperly secured and falls so that the valve is damaged, it can release all that pressure very suddenly through a hole no bigger than a pencil. This creates a very dangerous and destructive missile.

The Department of Occupational Health and Safety (OH&S) has revised the policy on the use and storage of compressed gas cylinders to be effective on May 31, 2005 . The new policy does not permit vendors or UAB Shipping and Receiving to leave a cylinder in an area that does not have the proper securing device. This can be a wall fixture with a chain or strap, or a bench-top clamp with a chain or strap. Arrangements are being made for Shipping and Receiving to have the bench-top device available at the time a tank is delivered, however, the cost of the device is the responsibility of the laboratory or department ordering the compressed gas.

View the revised policy, or call OH&S at 934-2487 for a copy or if you have any questions. The entire General Health and Safety Management Program Policies and Manual can be downloaded here.
Thunderstorm or Tornado Warning

You will be notified of a Warning through commercial radio, weather radio, TV or the Civil Defense siren.
If outside, move indoors as soon as possible.
Move to an interior hallway or basement.
In buildings with exposed, exterior walkways, remain in classrooms until immediate danger has passed.
Avoid upper floors, large glassed areas and windows.
Stay out of parking decks, gymnasiums and auditoriums.
Stay away from electrical appliances.
Only use the telephone for emergency calls.
Each year, Alabama experiences a wide variety of hazardous weather - from severe spring storms to the crippling effects of a blanket of snow. In each case, the impact of weather can be serious. In the Birmingham area, thunderstorms occur on the average of 75 days of the year. While most of the more violent storms occur in the spring and summer months, thunderstorms may develop at any time of the year. Typically, thunderstorms may include very high winds, rain, hail and lightning. The most dangerous aspect of a thunderstorm is lighting.

Lightning kills two or three Alabamians each year and several others are injured by lighting strikes. From 1990 to 1992, lightning killed four people and injured 127 in the state. Lightning has been appropriately called "the underrated killer." Every thunderstorm contains this potential killer. Whether it is the large, springtime severe thunderstorm or the more common afternoon summer variety, that electrical charge (which may reach 100 million volts) is always present and searching for the path of the least resistance to complete the circuit. It might strike you, an isolated tree or an object in the open. Keep in mind that you do not have to be standing directly beneath a cloud to be zapped.

If you are outdoors and cannot seek shelter in a large building or house:
  1. Stay away from open water, tractors, farm or lawn equipment or small metal vehicles such as motorcycles, bicycles or golf carts.
  2. Do not stand underneath tall isolated trees or telephone poles.
  3. Avoid hilltops or open areas.
  4. Stay away from wire fences, clotheslines, metal pipes and railings.
Alabama ranks fourth in the nation for the number of killer tornados and fifth in the number of fatalities. In an average year, National Weather Service records indicate that Alabama will experience 21 tornados that will be responsible for killing eight people.

The peak season for tornados in Alabama occurs during March, April and May. Tornados sometimes occur in November. While tornados can occur at any time, the most common is late afternoon and early evening between 2 and 10 p.m.

A Tornado Watch is announced when the National Weather Service has determined that conditions are favorable for the formation of a tornado. You should be aware of the current weather conditions in your area by staying tuned to the radio or television. A battery operated weather radio is recommended. Be prepared to move to a safe location immediately.

Tornadoes can come from any direction, but generally approach the Birmingham area from the south or southwest. Report funnel-shaped, rotating clouds immediately to the UAB Police Department. If you suspect, but cannot confirm a sighting, report your suspicions.

A Tornado Warning means that at least one tornado has been sighted. You should take shelter immeadiately to protect yourself from high winds, falling or flying objects and glass from breaking windows.

When a tornado threatens, the prime rule is to get as low as you can to put as many walls between yourself and the tornado as possible. The following are a few other tips:

In any structure, go the lowest floor possible to an interior room, interior hall, or a small room such as a closet or bathroom. Most UAB buildings offer excellent protection, however, upper floors and areas with exterior windows should be avoided.
Don't try to watch the storm from a window, sudden high winds can blow the window out.
Avoid rooms with large, free-span roofs, such as auditoriums or gymnasiums.
In mobile homes or vehicles: if you don't have time to reach a shelter, take cover and lie flat in a ditch, culvert, excavation or ravine. Never attempt to outrun a tornado in a car. You could easily drive into the path of the tornado.

Preparedness planning is an individual's responsibility. Betting that the storm will not strike you may be the most costly mistake you ever make. To protect yourself and your family, you should have a safety plan in action now, before danger hits. The National Weather Service advises that a severe preparedness plan should include:

  • A thorough knowledge of the hazard and the proper safety rules to be followed.
  • Selection and designation of the best shelter you have.
  • A reliable method of receiving warning information.
  • Instructions in the proper procedures to follow when a watch or warning is issued - or if threatening weather should develop with no advance warning - for each person in the household, factory or business. Drills to test and practice the plan.

For families, everyone should be involved in developing the weather plans. Also, a safety plan should be developed for each type of bad weather that affects your area.

Simply discussing what to do is not enough. To be fully prepared and ready to act, the plan you develop at home or at work should be rehearsed. Don't make a plan and then lock it away for safekeeping. Practice it - often.
Building Emergency Plan
Do the people in your building or department know what to do in case of fire? What about during a severe weather event? Each building at UAB should have a Building Disaster Plan, and all employees should be trained on the actions they should take during emergencies.

Below is the UAB Campus Building Disaster plan template. Please copy this template and use it to make your own building or department disaster plan.

The plan is generic and contains the basic elements you will need. There is some text in red which should be deleted and replaced with information specific to your building/department. You may delete any portions that do not apply to your building/department, such as the references to multiple floors if you have a one story building. And, if there are special or unusual characteristics in your building/area which require additional planning not addressed in this template please add it.

Building Emergency Plan template

OH&S will be happy to assist you with any planning needs or answer any questions you many have about the template.
Please contact Van Thursby at 6-5118 or e-mail at