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Is Infrared Laser Tag Safe?

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Laser tag is a popular shooting game that uses beams of light on targets to ‘shoot’ and beat opponents. Because the word ‘laser’ is involved, many people may be wary of the safety-related issues of toys that use this light technology.

With the strict standards that must be met for upholding toy safety, laser tag guns must also be regulated. Is infrared laser tag safe?

With the standards set in place by the FDA and other governing agencies that regulate the manufacturing of these "fake" guns, infrared laser tag is a safe activity. The lights used in these guns are not actually lasers or powerful enough to cause damage. The most risk you put yourself in while playing is physical collisions with others. 

We will go over the safety concerns related to playing laser tag and precautions you should take to keep yourself and others safe while playing.

The major concerns surrounding the use of lasers in the game are largely misunderstood, and we will explain the technology that is used in creating the ‘lasers.’

Can Laser Tag Hurt or Damage Eyes?

Lasers are concentrated beams of light that, with enough power, can be incredibly damaging to one’s eyes if they come in contact (especially for extended periods).

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It can only take a few seconds to cause major damage when in contact with an eye. The power level of lasers varies greatly, with your much more powerful lasers being capable of causing this type of injury. 

Very powerful lasers have very specific uses (medical, industrial, etc.), while weaker lasers have been produced for consumer use.

It is important to note that the light used in laser tag is not actually a laser, rather an infrared beam of red light.

They are called lasers because of history using lasers in the sport and the behavior in which these lights mimic. 

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The ‘lasers’ that are being used in laser tag do not have the power to damage or hurt your eyes. We do not recommend directing light at one’s eyes as minimizing any concentrated light is important.

The lights in these guns are typically concentrated beams of LED light, which are not powerful enough to cause damage. 

This is how light beam technology works in the game of laser tag: 

  • Concentrating LED lights into one beam: The lights in the gun are targeted to shoot in one direction to emulate the behavior of a laser. 
  • Infrared: The lights used in these guns still lie in the infrared spectrum, producing red hues. Typically these are visible in a red color and are associated with heat (although these lights are not hot). 
  • IR sensors: Sensors are located on a laser tag vest to pick up these infrared signals from the gun. These detect the light emitted and do not require the use of lasers to work. 

If guns do have lasers on them, they are regulated by the FDA. These toys should have an IEC Class I indications to show that they are very low risk compared to higher laser classes.

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The beams of light used in arcade and laser tag facilities are using beams of LED light. This is for safety and to allow the sensors on a laser tag vest to be activated.  

You do not need to wear protective goggles or glasses while playing, as contact will not injure your eyes. Protective eye-wear may actually hinder your ability to see clearly while playing laser tag in the dark environment. 

What Are the Risks of Playing Laser Tag? 

Now that we have cleared up the concerns related to safety and eye damage when playing laser tag, we want to cover other factors that may impact your safety while playing.

These issues are largely caused by playing a game in a dark environment and collisions with other players. The game is a non-contact sport, so playing by the rules and safely will mitigate these risks. 

These are some of the dangers that may be caused by playing laser tag: 

  • Collision with other players: Being in a dark environment, it may be difficult to see other players while running around. If you come into physical contact with someone else who is also running, you can acquire bruises and minor injuries. 
  • Lack of spatial awareness: Hitting walls and barricades may also be a risk when playing in a dark setting. Some players may sprain ankles or strain muscles in these collisions or if they come in contact with the props or physical barriers in the game. 
  • Negative reactions to strobe lights: If you experience seizures or have other conditions that may be impacted by the use of flashing lights, laser tag may not be the safest activity for you. Many of these facilities include additional light features for special effects. 

The most severe injuries one could acquire are head injuries from these types of collisions or from falling down. Minor injuries could include concussions, while more severe may result in greater skull and brain trauma.

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A very cautious approach would be to wear a helmet while playing if you are concerned with these risks. This is not necessary if all game rules are adhered to. 

How Can You Keep People Safe While Playing Laser Tag? 

Because the greatest risks to playing laser tag are caused by colliding or falling, being aware of your surroundings is crucial. You can help to minimize the risk of injury by following the set rules of the laser tag facility you are at.

These rules are typically quite uniform, and they all emphasize safety.  

To keep yourself and others safe while playing, we recommend taking these necessary precautions: 

  • No running: Running during laser tag increases your risks of falling or colliding in a dark environment. It also can be distracting from your surroundings and force you to come in contact with uneven surfaces more quickly. 
  • Age groups: Try and participate in laser tag with people around your age. Small children should not be playing with groups of adults to minimize the damage that could be caused by these physical collisions. 
  • Properly hold the gun: While it is a toy, these guns can still be weapons if they hit someone else. Make sure you are in full control of the gun and do not throw or wave it as others could be nearby. 
  • Keep your distance: You do not have to get close to other players to hit them successfully. Space should be maintained between players at all times throughout the game. This will largely limit physical contact (which is not allowed). 

If you follow the rules given to you at a laser tag facility, you should not run into issues related to safety. Being aware of the risks will help you to make better decisions in keeping yourself and others safe while playing.

Laser tag is very fun, and when we are enjoying ourselves, we may forget about some of these risks. Reviewing them beforehand can help to remind us. 

Is Infrared Laser Tag Safe? 

Infrared laser tag is a very safe activity if you follow the rules and take steps to keep yourself and others safe. 

In terms of damage to one’s eyes,  laser tag is very safe. Overall the sport is safe, but you should be aware that the greatest risks lie in physical injury related to contact with other players and your surroundings.

When looking into playing infrared laser tag and worrying about risks to your eyes, you don’t have to fret and can enjoy the sport with your friends!

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