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What a cheap laser can do, Beware!

WizardG

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Quote: Parents know the risks associated with all of those things. If they deem the potential consequences too severe they WILL shelter their children from them. I mean you wouldn't let a 9 year old play with a loaded firearm, would you?

I used to go 'plinking' with a 22 rifle at that age. I knew not to shoot myself or anyone else. I knew the danger. I knew it would be a bad thing.

Quote: I agree this is ignorance on behalf of the mother and the toy store.

Add the kid as well. None of the people involved in this incident knew of the danger involved. And even if the pointer wasn't seriously overspec, why was it being marketed as a toy?
 

Encap

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THe question seems to be what can or will regulators do about it if such cases become common place?

Maybe restrict sales of allowed legal laser pens <1mW and <5mW to people 18 years old or older and require a handout about laser eye hazards with every sale?

Doesn't stop adult idiocy of giving a hazardous device to a minor although it might clarify who is at fault.
 

RedCowboy

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I remember I had a pocket knife when I was so young that I could hardly get it open and I probably got into fights in school with it in my pocket and never thought about hurting anyone with it, different topic but it's the lack of parenting that's at the core of a lot of todays issues.

If the 9 year old had pointed the laser at a police helicopter I bet they would have held the mother responsible, ignorance of the law is no excuse however I also agree the toy store should not be selling these as toys, they need to know better.

The pointer was likely already illegal being overspec, they could pass an age restriction to further deter children possessing lasers and get the word out to parents and shops.......however the less laser laws the better, if the shop got sued that word would also spread, I wonder as I said just how guilty the mother really is, did she see the child looking into the pointer and tell him not to do that, was she aware of a problem without knowing how dangerous it really was, there may be a reason the toy shop was not sued.....or were they? Money makes things happen, if the retailer lost a lot of money in a suit that would discourage others from selling them.
 
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H2Oxide

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I used to go 'plinking' with a 22 rifle at that age. I knew not to shoot myself or anyone else. I knew the danger. I knew it would be a bad thing.
Would you consider yourself the exception, or the rule? If I handed a child that had no experience with firearms a loaded M1911 with a broken safety and said "here, go play. Just don't look down the barrel", I would hope that someone would object.

Kids are curious. They do stupid shit and that usually means they have to learn a painful lesson. That doesn't mean it's okay to give them something you yourself know very little about and then say "it's the kid's fault" when they end up permanently injuring themselves.
 
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WizardG

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Would you consider yourself the exception, or the rule? If I handed a child that had no experience with firearms a loaded M1911 with a broken safety and said "here, go play. Just don't look down the barrel", I would hope that someone would object.
I grew up out in da boonies so I'd consider myself the rule rather than the exception in that regard. But your point is well taken. I didn't know anything about firearms until I was taught. And if I wanted to go target shooting I had to save my allowance to buy ammo, and break down and clean the rifle when I got home.

I guess I'm still caught on the idea of a laser pointer being marketed as a children's toy. That strikes me as a bit like marketing guns as kids toys
 
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Parents know the risks associated with all of those things. If they deem the potential consequences too severe they WILL shelter their children from them.
Cars, sticks, fire, knifes, height, ... these are all dangers one can judge quite intuitively. These dangers scale linear. You can try it a bit and a bit more and ouch, now it hurts. So you can draw a line between safe and dangerous and you will know when you are near that border. Evolution has done a great job preparing us for such kind of danger.

A Laser however is completely different in its potential harm. For almost every aspect it is just a bright flashlight. You can light up something, you can make cool beams at night, you can even shine it on your skin without immediately chopping off the hand. If it is realy strong, you might feel the spot getting warm or even hot and you let off.

But if you get this into your eye, the lens will focus it at a tiny point, mutiplying its power by a huge ammount. This is all but intuitive. You know it, because you learned how the eye works, how a magnifying glass works, how physics work - but you cannot scale it up from previous experience. Even the internalized reaction to other "bright light" will not help you to comprehend that a Laser is totally different. We all "know" that staring into a 100W light bulb may cause some funny colors for a while, but will not fry your eyes. So what will convince you that your eye sight immediately might go poof if you watch the beam of a Laser only 1/10.000 of that power for only a fraction of a second.

This is "must believe" knowledge. You cannot personally verify and testify it. You canot slowly approach the danger line. This is pretty hard for a fully aware adult and totally impossible for a curious child.

Take yourself. You feel the tension of watching a bright Laser, do you? You feel the discrepance between "must watch it" and "keep it off your eyes"? How much "I promise to be careful" does one impose on the own behaviour, handling a Laser?

I mean you wouldn't let a 9 year old play with a loaded firearm, would you?
There are countries where some people would call this a perfectly viable engagement...

That doesn't mean it's okay to give them something you yourself know very little about
You can only prepare for known unknowns. How would one know that you might miss important knowledge? Most people get hit by new facts by surprise. They truly believe they know everything about anything, totally unaware that there might be unknown knowledge beyond their personal one. That's what causes people and politics making stupid decisions.
 
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H2Oxide

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Cars, sticks, fire, knifes, height, ... these are all dangers one can judge quite intuitively. These dangers scale linear. You can try it a bit and a bit more and ouch, now it hurts. So you can draw a line between safe and dangerous and you will know when you are near that border. Evolution has done a great job preparing us for such kind of danger.

A Laser however is completely different in its potential harm. For almost every aspect it is just a bright flashlight. You can light up something, you can make cool beams at night, you can even shine it on your skin without immediately chopping off the hand. If it is realy strong, you might feel the spot getting warm or even hot and you let off.

But if you get this into your eye, the lens will focus it at a tiny point, mutiplying its power by a huge ammount. This is all but intuitive. You know it, because you learned how the eye works, how a magnifying glass works, how physics work - but you cannot scale it up from previous experience. Even the internalized reaction to other "bright light" will not help you to comprehend that a Laser is totally different. We all "know" that staring into a 100W light bulb may cause some funny colors for a while, but will not fry your eyes. So what will convince you that your eye sight immediately might go poof if you watch the beam of a Laser only 1/10.000 of that power for only a fraction of a second.

This is "must believe" knowledge. You cannot personally verify and testify it. You canot slowly approach the danger line. This is pretty hard for a fully aware adult and totally impossible for a curious child.

Take yourself. You feel the tension of watching a bright Laser, do you? You feel the discrepance between "must watch it" and "keep it off your eyes"? How much "I promise to be careful" does one impose on the own behaviour, handling a Laser?
I'll agree with you that the danger lasers present is not wholly intuitive, but I fail to see how that changes anything. Just because the mother didn't recognize the danger doesn't mean it's not her fault that she endangered her child. If a parent buys a chemistry set for their child (even if they think it's safe, even though they don't really know anything about it), and the kid ends up poisoning themselves anyway, it's still the parents fault for giving the child the opportunity to poison themselves in the first place.

There are countries where some people would call this a perfectly viable engagement...
I worded that poorly. I meant you wouldn't let a 9 year old with no knowledge or experience with firearms play with a gun unsupervised. Or at least I hope you wouldn't.

You can only prepare for known unknowns. How would one know that you might miss important knowledge? Most people get hit by new facts by surprise. They truly believe they know everything about anything, totally unaware that there might be unknown knowledge beyond their personal one. That's what causes people and politics making stupid decisions.
I already stated this:

I'm not saying she's a bad parent, and I doubt she even realized what kind of potential danger she was putting her child in. I wouldn't expect a normal consumer to be thinking about that kind of thing, but the blame still falls on her because she could have easily prevented it.
Ultimately, a child's guardian is responsible for their safety. In this case, the guardian failed to protect their child. That doesn't necessarily make them a bad guardian or person, it just means that they didn't prepare for everything. All parents make mistakes, and some mistakes just have more severe consequences than others.
 
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I worded that poorly. I meant you wouldn't let a 9 year old with no knowledge or experience with firearms play with a gun unsupervised. Or at least I hope you wouldn't.
I did get you right, but you missed the subtile sarcasm in my answer. No, I don't want to see a gun in the hand of any person, child or not, loaded or not. However there are people that think the best answer to the danger of weapons is "even more weapons".

Ultimately, a child's guardian is responsible for their safety. In this case, the guardian failed to protect their child. That doesn't necessarily make them a bad guardian or person, it just means that they didn't prepare for everything. All parents make mistakes, and some mistakes just have more severe consequences than others.
So then we are d'accord. Shit happens. So if really anyone is to blame, then the guy who knowingly sold an overpowered laser. This one handed out a loaded weapon, stating "it's just a toy", to use your analogy. What do they think will happen? I can understand that mom is pretty angry about everyone in the Laser business.

Before I came here, I knew, that you often get tricked in eBay. But I never could imagine that you will not get less than paid for, but much more. Buy a "<5mW", get 50mW instead. Who would assume that? Sure, they post videos popping balloons and lighting matches with this "5mW" pointer, but I would have bet my life too, that's just marketing. That they exaggerate the power and you cerainly will get 2mW at most, as this is "<5mW" anyway.

Who would tell you THAT?
 

RedCowboy

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No, I don't want to see a gun in the hand of any person, child or not, loaded or not. However there are people that think the best answer to the danger of weapons is "even more weapons".

@ Smallfreak: The answer to thugs with or without weapons is NOT walking about empty handed, you can't wish away evil/violent people. The concept that more weapons is wrong means you think all people with weapons are part of the problem.

Hitler was not defeated by laying down arms, we had to build more weapons and fight evil, because evil will not stop because you disarm, quite the opposite.


---edit---

Furthermore the toy store is wrong for selling the eye hazzard lasers as toys, however the mother is also responsible for knowing what she hands her child is safe.
She knew enough to tell the child not too look into the beam, so she knew there was some level of danger and it was her responsibility to protect her child, she did not.
She should have pointed the laser into her own eye before trusting it as safe for her child or simply not hand it to him at all, she knew there was danger but handed it to him anyway, it's her fault too.
 
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Encap

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She knew enough to tell the child not too look into the beam, so she knew there was some level of danger and it was her responsibility to protect her child, she did not.
Exactly right RedCowboy---the mother says: "Archie did know not to look at the laser. I told him 'don't shine it in your eyes"
News report says: "Archie had owned the green laser pen, bought in a well-known toy shop in Basildon, Es***, for several years.
His mum had just changed the battery in the pen and reminded Archie to not look directly at the light before passing the laser pen back to him to play with on August 17."
She clearly knew the pen presented an eye hazard but thought it OK for him to play with it anyway.


Here is one UK case where the seller who imported the lasers was found guilty and given 240 hours of community service . https://www.thejc.com/news/uk-news/joy-for-mother-after-victory-in-laser-pen-campaign-1.60908
"A 47-year-old Surrey woman was sentenced in mid-July 2016 to 240 hours of community service for illegally importing 300 over-powered lasers. One of the lasers was sold for £6 (USD $9) at a school Christmas fair and subsequently caused an eye injury to a seven-year-old boy.
Lynsey McClure had imported the lasers from a Chinese supplier who said they complied with U.K. regulations limiting laser pens to 1 milliwatt of power. "
The lasers were actually 100mW

There are many more cases reported here: Eye injury - self-inflicted | Laser Pointer Safety - News of non-aviation incidents, arrests, etc.

One US study of 4 cases advises:
"Laser pointers are readily available and appropriate use of laser pointers in the pediatric population must be emphasized due to the potential irreversible retinal injury. Health professionals, school teachers, and parents should raise public awareness of this emerging public health issue by educating children about the dangers of laser pointers. Laser pointer devices among children should be discouraged and limited due to the possibility of permanent harm to themselves and others. Legislation and laws may be required to better control the sale and use of these devices."
See: US: Study examines four laser-caused eye injuries in children, at one medical practice | Laser Pointer Safety - News of non-aviation incidents, arrests, etc.

Clearly it is not just kids will be kids situation. Lasers in the hands of children who have no idea about possible eye damage are an accident looking for a place to happen.
It is the responsibility of parents and other adults to protect children from eye damage due to playing with laser pens.
 
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H2Oxide

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I did get you right, but you missed the subtile sarcasm in my answer. No, I don't want to see a gun in the hand of any person, child or not, loaded or not. However there are people that think the best answer to the danger of weapons is "even more weapons".
Ah, I see. This would boil down to personal beliefs and there's a 100+ page thread on gun rights already. I do not wish to digress.

So then we are d'accord. Shit happens. So if really anyone is to blame, then the guy who knowingly sold an overpowered laser. This one handed out a loaded weapon, stating "it's just a toy", to use your analogy. What do they think will happen? I can understand that mom is pretty angry about everyone in the Laser business.

Before I came here, I knew, that you often get tricked in eBay. But I never could imagine that you will not get less than paid for, but much more. Buy a "<5mW", get 50mW instead. Who would assume that? Sure, they post videos popping balloons and lighting matches with this "5mW" pointer, but I would have bet my life too, that's just marketing. That they exaggerate the power and you cerainly will get 2mW at most, as this is "<5mW" anyway.

Who would tell you THAT?
I highly doubt the guy who sold it to her knew much more about it than she did. They probably DID think it was a toy. I'm not too familiar with the laser laws over in the UK, but I'm willing to bet that it was illegal for the toy store to be selling them anyway, so they're probably in some hot water already. I wholeheartedly agree that the toy store should NOT have been selling these things, but if you want to place blame on someone up the chain, then I'd say the manufacturer is at fault for knowingly shipping over overspec laser "pointers". There's a chance that even the manufacturer doesn't understand these things because they're produced in a Chinese sweatshop without any quality standards.

Legally, it looks like a pretty open and shut case. The mother could sue the ever-loving shit out of the toy store, since they provided a dangerous object without the proper warning labels. But morally, I'd still say it's the mother's fault because she still gave it to the child without understanding it. Ignorance is not an excuse.
 
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Ah, I see. This would boil down to personal beliefs and there's a 100+ page thread on gun rights already. I do not wish to digress.
Yes, this is probably a very personal opinion and nobody must agree. This ist not the topic here. I could elaborate on that elsewhere.

I highly doubt the guy who sold it to her knew much more about it than she did. They probably DID think it was a toy. ... but if you want to place blame on someone up the chain, then I'd say the manufacturer is at fault for knowingly shipping over overspec laser "pointers".
Somewhere within this chain some as***le decided that it is OK to sell this high power laser as a "class 1 complying device", knowing that it is not. Accepting this will eventually end up in a childs hand because of this decision. Someone intentionally accepted the risk for earning a vew bucks. So why not just BUILD a Class 1 pointer? These can safely be sold and would earn the same money.

What's the point, producing these things in big masses? Because there are a lot of people who intentionally buy "dangerous things"? More than would buy "useful things"?

Yes I bought one myself. And it is labelled "Class III" as it should. Definitely no toy and it did not cost me an arm. People willing to buy such stuff will buy it correctly labelled too. And they will find a way to get it, despite of any law. But they do this fully aware of the danger.

People buying "safe laser pointers" are rightfully expecting them to be safe. These people are intentionally and needlessly put on risk.
 
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Encap

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I grew up out in da boonies so I'd consider myself the rule rather than the exception in that regard. But your point is well taken. I didn't know anything about firearms until I was taught. And if I wanted to go target shooting I had to save my allowance to buy ammo, and break down and clean the rifle when I got home.

I guess I'm still caught on the idea of a laser pointer being marketed as a children's toy. That strikes me as a bit like marketing guns as kids toys
:beer: Congratulations to WizardG on 9,000,000 +reps :beer:
 

Benm

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I'd say the general public would see it like this: you can give a 10 year old a small had saw to cut branches off trees, do some woodworking or whatever. Such a saw is potentially dangerous, it wouldn't be difficult to saw off a finger with one, but not in a single go.

A laser is more like giving a 10 year old a petrol powered chainsaw, which would in case of an accident be able to cut off an arm or a leg in a single mishap.

This is the same thing with flashlights and lasers: A low power flashlight hurts when you shine it into your eyes, enough so to stop doing that before damage is done. With the (grossly overspec) laser the damage is done even before you realize it hurts.

But mislabeling goes a stretch further here: If that really was a class 2 laser (< 1 mW), looking into it would have left ample time to blink before any damage is done. Even if it was only class 3R the output would have been under 5 mW and not that much damage could have been done by looking into it for a second or two.

So that would leave me to conclude that the shop sold a class 3B or even class 4 laser as a 'toy'. I'd say even class 2 lasers are not toys (but okay presentation pointers etc). Effectively they sold something that looked like a hand figure saw but had the power of a chainsaw. I have no idea idea if the shop owner had any idea of this or not, but it happens a lot.

They also sell them on streets. For example in ecountered a lot of people selling green lasers in Bangkok, which were clearly 3B... and they 'advertise' them by shining around too, hitting people in the face here and there. On more than one occasion i've told these guys i'd ram that laser up their behind sideways if they ever grazed me with the beam again, and i guess i'm not the only one. In the last few years they still sell them but shine them around only with a pattern/diffraction grating on so the main beam doesn't come out at full force. I guess they might have accidentally lasered some cops as well though, and i can sort of imagine that sideway-insertion being a relatively good outcome over there ;)
 

WizardG

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:beer: Congratulations to WizardG on 9,000,000 +reps :beer:
Averaging over 14000 rep points per post.

And to think, there are some who believe the rep' system isn't working:whistle:
 

Pelagius

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Hi WizardG
I also grew up in the boonies-the Sierra. I was taught respect and gun safety from an early age-never point at any one at any time, keep the safety on-don't shoot at rocks-etc. I was plinking with a single shot 22 at age 11 with 22 shorts. Then it was clean the rifle. I had a hill to shoot into. Many cans and pinecones met their fate!
I treat lasers the same way- although I've yet to zap any pinecones or cans. :)
Laser pointers are not kids toys. Originally, it was 1 mW 650 nm. Relatively lower hazard.

Only more recently have the crappy 532 nm taken off. Elsewhere I describe trying to buy an actual 1mW 532-and getting a way over spec pen-that makes my eyes ache just viewing the dot on a wall-not for presentations!
Solved that need with a 505 nm from Laserlands. Probably less than 5mW. It's a direct diode and the beam spot is larger than the DPSS 532-and of course no splatter of IR either.

I grew up out in da boonies so I'd consider myself the rule rather than the exception in that regard. But your point is well taken. I didn't know anything about firearms until I was taught. And if I wanted to go target shooting I had to save my allowance to buy ammo, and break down and clean the rifle when I got home.

I guess I'm still caught on the idea of a laser pointer being marketed as a children's toy. That strikes me as a bit like marketing guns as kids toys
 




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