Laser Pointer Safety: FAQ and Proper Usage
Laser pointers are fun, yet powerful gadgets, but they can cause serious eye or skin damage, and be a distraction to planes and other vehicles if used improperly. It is important to be sure you use your laser pointer safely and responsibly.
Laser Pointer FAQ:
Q: What are the biggest problems with laser pointers due to misuse?
1) Laser pointers can interfere with aircraft and the pilot's ability to see. They distract and disorient pilots.
2) Laser pointers have also caused motor vehicle accidents when drivers were blinded by the beam of a laser pointer.
3) They can also cause eye and skin damage if used improperly.
Laser Pointer Hazard Distance Chart
Q: What does "mW" mean?
A: "mW" stands for milli-watt and it a measurement of how much power the laser pointer emits. It tells you not only how bright the laser is, but also the laser pointer's range
Q: What do people use laser pointers for?
A: There are several uses for laser pointers, the first being astronomy. You can use the laser to point out stars, planets, and constellations. You can also use it as a visual aid in presentations, or classroom situations. You can use it to play with your cat, it's a great way to get them exercise..
Q: Why are laser pointers dangerous to planes and vehicle operators?
A: There are three types of visual hazards that are caused by laser pointers.
Temporary Flash Blindness
Like having a camera flash directly in your eyes. You will not be able to see until the afterimage fades.
Glare and Disruption
You cannot see past the light glare until the light stops. The glare is bright enough to disrupt normal operations.
You are distracted by a steady or flashing laser light that is significantly brighter than other normal light sources such as city lights and airport runway marker lights. These types of disturbances might not blind you but can be a mental distraction for pilots, and drivers on the road.
*A 5 mW Laser can cause a distraction up to two miles away
*a 125 mW laser can cause a distraction up to 11 miles away
Q: What is the most powerful a laser pointer can legally be?
A: Laser pointers within the range of 1 mW and 5 mW are the only laser pointers that are legally allowed. Anything higher than that the lasers are too powerful and can cause both eye and skin irritation.
Q: What is the difference between laser pointer classes?
A: Each class refers to the strength of the laser. Only Class 3 is legal, anything above is considered dangerous and illegal.