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Holiday decorations pose safety risk for aircraft pilots

Star Shower Laser Light projected on a house during Christmas.
Source: Youtube
Star Shower Laser Light projected on a house during Christmas.

Your holiday decor could be a safety hazard ... for pilots.

Consumers who purchased "Star Shower," a plug-in laser light projector, should probably read the product's directions. The decoration may help you "illuminate your house in a matter of seconds," but it can also be a blinding hazard to pilots, according to an NBC affiliate.

"You experience what's called a flash blindness," Sgt. Morrie Zager, a helicopter pilot for the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department, told NBC. "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."

The Star Shower device, produced by Telebrands, meets FDA regulations and Consumer Product Safety standards. It also carries a warning for users not to point the device directly at the sky and not to activate it within 10 nautical miles of an airport — several incidents have been reported in recent months.

Most notably, on Nov. 18, a Star Shower projector shined into the cockpit of a C-130 Coast Guard plane as it flew over Sacramento, California. While no one was harmed or charged in this incident, pointing a laser at a plane or chopper is considered a crime and could result in prison time and upward of $250,000 in fines.

Star Shower makers told the NBC affiliate that its product is compliant with FAA regulations for lasers — but emphasized the decoration should be pointed directly at your home, never directly into the sky.

Read the full report from NBC4 in Los Angeles.