December 1, 2016
As one of the most popular items flying off the shelves this holiday season, drones have gone from sci-fi dream to household plaything. People of all ages are taking to the skies with these unmanned flying devices and scaring dogs and neighbors alike. But as your mom said, it’s all fun and games until someone gets hurt.
While your brand new drone may be your favorite gift this holiday season, the dangers of these unmanned flying devices need to be taken into consideration. Everyone from small children to professional baseball players have endured serious injuries due to everything from handling missteps to flying errors.
Being careful is key when it comes to using a drone. Follow these guidelines to make sure you are safe when you take to the skies:
FAA regulations state that you may not fly your drone higher than 400 feet. If you’re being honest with yourself, you do not need to fly it that high. Even if you’re trying to get beautiful shots of your neighborhood, keeping your drone at a safe height is more than reasonable.
In addition to staying away from power lines, airplanes, and other objects above that height, flying low will guarantee that running out of batteries won’t give someone a concussion.
While flying high can be dangerous, flying low can be even more dangerous when there are people around. Whether you’re flying a tiny handheld drone or a 300 gram giant, you can do some serious damage to everything from eyeballs to rotator cuffs.
Also, vehicles are included in “people.” Driving over busy highways, hectic intersections, and even creepy back roads is a terrible idea. Not only because a mishap could cause serious damage to a passing BMW, but also because it will make people look up from the road, which could cause an even more disastrous accident.
Steer Clear of Airports
FAA regulations dictate that if you plan to fly your drone within five miles of an airport, you must contact the control tower beforehand. While this seems easy, getting in touch with airport security is going to put a damper on your drone usage.
If you’re unfortunate enough to live near an airport and don’t have the means to drive a few miles away, by all means give them a call. But for everyone else, avoid airports at all costs. Even if you do call ahead, you could cause a lot of undue stress to passengers and pilots alike.
Do Not Fly in Bad Weather
Whether you’re new to drone flying or a professional drone racing champion, bad weather can easily take these unmanned flying devices right out of the air. All previous rules will go out the proverbial window if you can’t get a hold of your drone.
A little breeze or a small dusting of snow is manageable. But if you think you can take your new toy out in a hurricane, you are going to have an unpleasant realization when your drone ends up in a different state after a large gust of wind.
Check Local Laws
Yes, the FAA regulations are important to know. But every village, town, and city in the country has specific laws regarding the use of drones. Make sure to check out the regulations for your town so that you don’t end up screaming at a police officer about the FAA when they couldn’t care less.
Photo: Flickr / Richard Unten
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