Children often get cuts, scrapes and bruises. Curious and courageous, children are constantly playing and exploring. It’s part of growth. But games that seem harmless can turn into something much more serious in a matter of seconds.
Using a laser pointer to run the pet may seem like fun. But the experience of an eight-year-old boy with laser pointers is proof that they can cause serious harm. Johnny Marshall was at his sister’s school fair when he saw a laser pen at one of the stands. After begging for his parents, they gave in and bought him the toy. Johnny was playing with his new toy at home when he made it shine in his eyes out of curiosity – something that many children could do. In a quarter of a second, he had a thermal burn and permanent damage in his retina.
The FDA’s Center for Devices and Radiological Health (CDRH) states that the federal limit for laser pointers is 3-5 milliwatts. So far, there has been no report of eye injuries among these lasers. However, there are many lasers that are well above the federal safety limits, posing a risk to anyone who comes into contact with one of them.
The UK has a different set of laser pointer safety limits. “… If it had been in the UK regulations, it would not have done any damage,” says Johnny’s mother, Angela Marshall. “But unfortunately, it was imported, so it was a class 3B laser, which is between 5 and 500 milliwatts. Class 3B lasers with a range of 5-500 milliwatts can cause damage to the eye in a fraction of a second, even remotely. Serious eye damage can occur from 100 meters, about 328 feet away.
Although Johnny does not feel the pain, he has lost 75% of his vision, and will be limited to 25% for the rest of his life.
If you are using a laser pointer, here are seven important safety tips to remember:
- 1. Do not use laser pointers without labels – Imported lasers can be much more dangerous because they have higher power, and usually have no label.
- 2. Do not point the laser beams at the eyes – Laser beams can damage the retinas. Never point a laser beam on anyone’s face or eyes.
- 3. Do not Point Laser Pointers at an Aircraft – Even a laser pointer with lower power can travel up to 2.2 miles before decreasing. Pointing a laser on an airplane is extremely dangerous.
- 4. Do not point laser pointers at cars – Laser pointers can cause temporary blindness. Never point a laser near vehicles.
- 5. Do not point a laser beam at the skin – A strong laser pointer can be felt on the skin if it is pointed at it, causing a burning sensation.
- 6. Do not point lasers at animals – It is very easy to accidentally shine the beam in the animal’s eyes, so never use a laser beam to “play” with animals.
- 7. Do not give children pointers – Children do not understand the dangers of laser pointers, so it is best to always keep them away from children.
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