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Are outdoor Christmas displays blinding pilots?

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Posted at 5:32 PM, Dec 09, 2015
and last updated 2015-12-09 19:32:07-05

A new trend in outdoor Christmas decorating could potentially blind passing pilots.

Since a laser from a Christmas light display blinded the pilot of a C130 in late November, the FAA is warning users of the Star Shower to take precautions in order to ensure pilot safety.

The Star Shower, a display being sold on television and at multiple retailers for $39.99, has hundreds of laser lights bounce off homes. The lights are all displayed from a single unit, giving home-owners an alternative to hanging strands of traditional lights. 

Because of its easy setup and low cost, it has become a popular way to decorate homes — but with this ease is causing safety concerns.

Of particular concern are the green lasers that are emitted from the Star Shower. Green lasers are considerably brighter and more focused than red lasers, and could blind pilots from more than a mile away.

Because of this, the FAA recommends that anyone that is within 10 miles of an airport to exercise caution when installing a Star Shower. They say the Star Shower should be pointed in a way so all lights reflects on the home.

“Lasers must meet rigorous FDA regulations and Consumer Product Safety standards,” said a statement by Telebrands, the company producing the Star Shower. “Star Shower should be pointed directly at your home and never directly into the sky. Lasers should not be projected at or within the flight path of an aircraft within 10 nautical miles of an airport. If your intended surface is within 10 nautical miles of an airport, lower the angle of the Star Shower so that no lasers point into the sky.”

The company adds that glancing into the Star Shower’s lasers will not cause permanent eye damage as the light is refracted. 

Justin Boggs is a writer for the E.W. Scripps National Desk. Follow him on Twitter @jjboggs.