The days will eventually come when we can all get out of the house, and when the kids (and the kids at heart) can one more play with other kids. But with any game that involves running around, there are always safety concerns.
These days, parents are more aware of the dangers of sports like football, which can lead to eventual health issues due to concussions, plus the great risks of broken bones. Other contact sports can also be inherently dangerous, due to how players can bump on to one another.
Playing with air guns is generally considered safe as well, but it can be dangerous for kids. After all, they’re firing actual pellets that can hit players in the eyes. These pellets can do substantial damage especially at close range, when fired at the face or other exposed areas.
But what about laser tag? Compared to airsoft games, laser tag is much safer. Still, there are health and safety issues that must be addressed.
The Use of “Lasers”
If you’re like some people, you see the word laser and you immediately think of the weapons in sci-fi movies, or some convoluted gadgets used by certain James Bond villains. Or maybe you know that they’re used for some types of industrial manufacturing processes, or even for some types of surgeries (like LASIK).
But here’s the main thing about laser tag—the game doesn’t normally use lasers at all! That makes it super-safe.
Actually, there are several types of systems used for laser tag. The most popular system uses infrared instead of lasers. These IR signs are safe—they’re exactly the same type of light communication used by your various remote controllers. You can point that TV remote at your own eye as you press the various buttons, and it won’t do you any harm.
That’s how the game works. The players wear vests like the TV has remote IR receivers. The vests light up when you fire your “laser” weapon and hit the receivers, just like your TV turns on when you use the TV remote when it’s pointed at the TV.
It’s true that some laser tag systems that use actual lasers for greater accuracy. But these laser tag systems comply with rather stringent safety standards set up the US FDA.
- First, these lasers emit very weak light. The power level doesn’t reach 1mW, and they’re designated as Class 2 lasers. These are deemed safe for public use. Even if you aim the weapon at someone’s eyes, the exposure is so short that there’s no damage. The instinctive response for the person being hit by the laser is to turn their head and close their eyes (by blinking).
- Also, red laser light is generally used because its power level is lower than with green laser light.
- The laser pulse is also usually limited in duration, so that even when you aim the laser light at someone’s eyes, the laser pulse doesn’t last for more than a few milliseconds.
- Finally, in laser tag there are usually no targets in the helmets used by the players. To “hit” the opposing players, you’ve got to aim for the targets on their vests.
What About Other Injuries?
Laser tag is still a physical game, so it’s a bit more dangerous than lounging on your couch watching TV. It’s like playing tag, even without the “laser” aspect. With players running and jumping around, there’s always a chance of some sort of injuries.
Here are some injuries that have been reported during laser tag activities:
- Cuts and wounds
- Broken bones due to tripping and falling
- Facial cuts (because someone ran into a mirror)
- Broken noses (someone ran into a wall or fell down face-first)
- Seizures (when players are already epileptics and they’re affected by the flashing lights
But it must be noted that these injuries are very rare, especially the more serious ones. You only risk injuries because you’re probably running, and that runs the risk of tripping and falling.
Helpful Tips to Avoid Injuries
Even without “dangerous” lasers, all that physical activity can lead to physical injury. Here are some tips that should reduce the risk even further:
- Obey all the establishment rules. This is crucial, as you may not be allowed to play in the place next time when you keep breaking all the rules set up by the indoor laser tag arena. Get a copy of all the rules, and then keep them in mind.
- Try to avoid playing in dark areas. If you do have to play laser tag in low light situations, you may want to use a flashlight on your weapon or on your helmet.
- Don’t run if you don’t have to. Running may net let you see danger spots, like jutting edges, low tables, chairs in the way, or wet spots on the ground that may cause you to slip. Instead, take your time and be mindful of your surroundings.
- If you’re outdoors, the uneven ground can also be a problem. Don’t run at full speed, as the uneven ground can trip you up.
- Get some good running shoes, or even tactical shoes meant for law enforcement and military personnel. These can offer a good grip on the ground, and even protect from sprains.
- If you have some sort epileptic condition, make sure that the flashing lights don’t affect you. Don’t play if they’re dangerous for you.
- If you have asthma or some sort of breathing condition, check if the place is using some sort of fog machine or other gadgets that may affect your breathing.
- Don’t play if you’re not in good physical condition. Basically, if you’re not healthy enough to run around, then you’re not healthy enough for laser tag.
Laser tag is actually safe. In fact, it’s meant for players of all ages. If a kid is old enough to play tag, then they’re likely old enough to play laser tag. They may not win against more serious players, but they sure will have fun. And isn’t having fun the whole point of any game?