Be careful with those lasers, celebrants.

CNN has called the Star Shower Laser Light “this year's frenzy,” and let me tell you—this product is perfect for the very lazy, very effusive holiday enthusiast. If you can still find this popular gadget in stores, you shell out $39.99, plop it in front of your house, and hit the switch. Voila: Instant, beautiful pinpricks of colorful light that cover up to 600 square feet, according to the company. Santa should have no trouble finding you this year.

Unless he’s approaching from the sky. Los Angeles’s local NBC affiliate reports that a Coast Guard pilot was temporarily blinded when the Star Shower’s lasers made a direct hit on his cockpit.

Here’s how Sgt. Morrie Zager, a pilot with the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department, described the feeling of getting a laser in your eye while flying a plane:

"You experience what's called a flash blindness. Everything goes away except green. The worst part about it is the pain. It can cause anything from a mild distraction to a complete incapacitation of the pilot resulting in the aircraft crashing."

ABC aviation expert Jim Nance warns that direct laser hits—particularly those from green lasers—can permanently wreck pilots’ vision:

The potential for getting hit by one of these lasers and ending up with permanent eye damage, I'm afraid, is very high. If you happen to linger on it for just a couple of microseconds, that might be enough to completely wreck your retina. That could put a pilot out of the business of flying.

The Coast Guard plane did end up landing safely, but Star Shower’s manufacturers are reminding users to read the dang directions and be careful while using lasers. Decorators who live within 10 nautical miles of an airport should lower the angle of the laser’s projection, the company stresses in its instructions. “Star Shower Laser Lights are compliant with FDA regulations governing lasers and with Consumer Product Safety standards,” the company said in a statement to NBC.

Laser strikes on airplanes and helicopters often go up around the holidays, as children and adult fools test out laser gifts on the sky. Laser strikes have become such a problem for pilots that the FBI ran a two-month reward program in 2014 that promised $10,000 for information “that leads to the arrest of any individual who aims a laser at an aircraft.”

The real moral of the story: Be smart out there, light lovers.

H/t: Consumerist

About the Author

Most Popular

  1. Environment

    A 13,235-Mile Road Trip for 70-Degree Weather Every Day

    This year-long journey across the U.S. keeps you at consistent high temperatures.

  2. Design

    Bringing New Life to Frank Lloyd Wright’s Lost Designs

    “I would love to model all of Wright's work, but it is immense,” says architect David Romero. “I do not know if during all my life I will have time.”

  3. Transportation

    CityLab University: Induced Demand

    When traffic-clogged highways are expanded, new drivers quickly materialize to fill them. What gives? Here’s how “induced demand” works.

  4. An illustration of the Memorial Day flood in Ellicott City, Maryland.
    Environment

    In a Town Shaped by Water, the River Is Winning

    Storms supercharged by climate change pose a dire threat to river towns. After two catastrophic floods, tiny Ellicott City faces a critical decision: Rebuild, or retreat?

  5. A photo of police officers sealing off trash bins prior to the Tokyo Marathon in Tokyo in 2015.
    Life

    Carefully, Japan Reconsiders the Trash Can

    The near-absence of public garbage bins in cities like Tokyo is both a security measure and a reflection of a cultural aversion to littering.