Blair Edwards

July 11, 2022

Most days Blair Edwards, as Senior Security Operations Manager, Physical Security and Protective Force for the Lab, can be found traveling between the Security Operations Center and the Lab’s gates, but for 25 years his travels were focused on keeping America’s air space secure. Before coming to the Lab in 2019, Blair worked for Homeland Security as the Assistant Federal Security Director for Screening with oversight of 1,100 security officers, 15 K9 teams, and 11 explosive specialists at McCarran Airport in Las Vegas. Blair shares some of his summer safety and travel tips.

This summer is going to be another high heat, high fire risk season. What are your top summer safety tips for employees and visitors while at the Lab?

First and foremost, be comfortable in your surroundings. Take the time to learn the correct - and easy - Lab procedures for badging in at the gate and buildings. Check out for more information. Correct badging into the site and into buildings lets us know who is where at the Lab in case of emergency. The Lab offers many tools and training on safety and security. Tools are your friends!

Our Hill site is gorgeous but very dry and highly flammable. Fire danger is very real, especially in summer and fall. Know your evacuation route and where the fire extinguishers are in your building. Pay attention to LabAlerts and sign up if you don’t have LabAlert on your personal mobile device. The Lab’s Fire Marshal can issue what the weather service calls Red Flag Warnings when fire danger is extreme. This may sound simple but don't do anything that would create a situation where things might catch on fire. In terms of heat, always carry water with you even on a lunchtime stroll. It's also a good idea to make sure someone always knows where you are or plan to be.

Since you've been on the security side of the airport experience, what are your top tips for Lab travelers - business or pleasure - to get through the airport quickly and safely?

Ironically, the quickest way to get through the airport is to not be in a rush. Be patient and be prepared. If you travel frequently, sign up for the Global Entry program through U.S. Customs, or the TSA Pre-Check program. You'll get a frequent traveler number and spend less time in the airport screening process. Know that Real ID is coming as a requirement by May 2023, and a passport is still the gold standard for identification.

Here are my top tips to get through screening as quickly as possible:

  • Carry on only what you need. Checking bags is easy and you'll have less to be scanned. Snacks are great, but did you know that peanut butter looks like explosives to the scanner?

  • Put things in containers but be aware of dense packaging. Scanners will be alerted to something that appears shielded. However, the scanners can see through aluminum foil, so don't worry about grandma's wrapped cookies.

  • In the body scanner, stand straight, good posture, arms up. Bulky clothes can be tricky...i.e. cargo shorts with material build-up. The scanner likes clean lines.

  • If you have a choice, traveling in the very early morning, or later in the afternoon, generally avoids the busiest travel times and longest lines.

My favorite saying is "Don't make travel a touching experience."

You know we have to ask this. As a TSA Officer, what's the weirdest thing you've had to scan?

I once opened a suitcase and got a face full of pinching sand crab claws grabbing at me! Someone was trying to transport live crustaceans; a definite no-no. It's also always interesting when scientists are transporting body parts such as frozen cadaver heads. Check out the TSA Twitter account and TSA Instagram account for hilarious travel stories (and dad jokes!) straight from TSA officers.

I'd also just like to note that there are so many fantastic people working for TSA who are trying to keep you safe. The number one tip I have for you is to simply say thank you. You'll make their day.