Crying Wolf: Five Consequences of a False Alarm in the Mailroom

Dec 4, 2019

By Simone Stanley

Everyone has probably experienced an evacuation whether in the workplace or in an educational setting.  Some may have grown frustrated while anticipating information about the alarm. Think back to when your patience ran thin while waiting to return to your duties.

Imagine, if the evacuation is discovered to be a false alarm; the interruption becomes an annoyance.  Like the boy who cried wolf, future evacuations will not be taken seriously, which can have frightening implications.

For decades, commercial businesses and government agencies have experienced evacuations due to suspicious findings in the mailroom.  Without technology that can test mail onsite and produce fast, accurate results, these false alarms can have significant negative consequences.

Five Consequences of a False Alarm in the Mailroom


Loss of Time and Productivity

In one case, police arrived on the scene at 9:45 am and employees were not allowed to return until 1:15 pm. When emergency resources (fire department, police, and hazardous material crews) are called to inspect a suspicious letter or package, the mailroom is evacuated, and the inspection can take several hours. For the safety of the entire organization, additional locations outside of the mailroom may also be evacuated, halting all primary business functions and leading to hours of lost productivity.

Loss of Revenue

When business is disrupted even for just a few hours, it can cost the company money. Lost revenues plus extra expenses to recoup lost time can reduce profits.  A Fortune 500 company can experience significant monetary losses, sometimes in the millions, in only a few hours of downtime due to a facility evacuation.

Disruption to Emergency Resources

When fire departments and response teams are dispatched to a false alarm, these responders aren’t available for true emergencies. This can have a negative outcome in the community. In one mailroom incident, 20 emergency professionals were deployed to contain the situation along with fire and ambulance staff. These responders cannot afford to be occupied during a true emergency due to a false alarm.

Loss of Peace of Mind

After an incident of this magnitude, there can be lasting anxiety. Mailroom employees and management will continue to worry about the potential of suspicious materials entering their facility, especially with the lack of onsite testing capabilities. This anxiety can lead to a stressful work environment and impact the productivity of the mailroom.

Loss of Reputation

False alarms can erode the confidence employees have in their workplace safety and culture. Customers may also question the security of a company. In a time when security and privacy are paramount, it is imperative to keep employees and the community safe while satisfying the customers’ perception.

If you can’t afford to suffer any of these consequences, you should consider the best practice for your company to prevent false alarms and interruptions in the workplace. Onsite screening with PathSensors’ CANARY Technology is:

  • Rapid
  • Cost-Effective
  • Easy to Use


PathSensors is the leading solution for detecting serious biological and other mailroom threats. Don’t bring negative attention to your organization with a false alarm. Click here for a free eBook: Top 5 Ways to Secure Your Mailroom.

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