Summer is cool because you can fill your agenda with parties and plans. It’s almost Independence Day and nearly everyone you know will be outside celebrating. With it comes marching bands, live music, parades and, of course, fireworks. When going out to have fun this holiday season, don’t lose out on the fun, just take a second to consider how you might protect your hearing.
Noise-induced hearing loss has an effect on about 6 percent of the U.S. adult populace below the age of 70; that equates to around 40 million people. It’s unfortunate that this kind of hearing damage is almost 100 percent preventable. What’s needed is a little foresight and good sense. Take into consideration some examples of why you should really take care of your ears as you have fun this season and the best ways of doing it.
Topping the List of Offenders are Booming Fireworks.
At the top of the list of potential dangers associated with fireworks, hearing damage is at the top. Experts frequently warn people about burns or fires, but usually don’t say much about hearing damage.
Boys Town National Research Hospital states you’re at risk of hearing loss from fireworks regardless if you’re shooting them off yourself or watching them at a public show. After all, any sound over 85 decibels is capable of causing noise-related damage with extensive exposure. 150 to 175 decibels is the typical range of fireworks. The World Health Association estimates that adults could withstand up to 140 decibels of sound for a short time, but children will surely have damage at just 120. Fireworks are normally louder than both those numbers.
The good news? Your risk of hearing loss is reduced the further you are away from the explosion. Watching the fireworks show from nearby is definitely more damaging than watching them from your porch at home. Boys Town recommends you stand at least 30 yards away if you are an adult. Babies should not be there and children should be at least 70 yards away.
Because You Love Live Music
Who doesn’t? And of course some of the best musicians in the world come out to perform in the summer. The World Health Association states that a billion teens are at risk for hearing loss from music whether it is coming from ear-buds, a parade or a favorite band playing on stage.
Any person exposed to loud music faces the same possible consequence, but time is a factor when it comes to live music. A sound at 100 decibels, which is typical level for live shows, becomes dangerous after just 15 minutes. It’s safe to say; most people attend concerts for longer than that!
Then There are the People
The most underestimated danger for hearing damage is crowd noise. When the crowd is into the celebration everyone is talking and yelling loudly. The American Speech-Language-Hearing Association claims that crowd noise at sports games ranges between 80 to 90 decibels. Unfortunately, it will most likely be louder and more consistent at a celebration or parade.
A Small Amount of Common Sense Goes a Long Way
How can you keep your ears protected? It’s a lot more common sense than you may think. Assess the hearing risk of the event beforehand:
- Will there be loud music?
- Large crowds?
What precautions you take depends on how loud you think the celebration will be. If there is loud music or crowds, plan on wearing ear protection. Something simple like foam earplugs will allow you to hear what’s going on still, but at a safe level.
The family should be kept at a safe distance during a fireworks show. You don’t have to be dangerously close to enjoy fireworks. Watch from a couple of blocks away, at least, to be safe. Being a little further away helps you avoid large crowds making the show more enjoyable
The Sumer Season has Other Risks Besides Hearing Damage
Sound levels are not the only concern here. Hot sun, not enough water, excessive drinking, and fatigue also can be a concern. If you have tinnitus or suffer from hearing loss these things will make them worse.
Try not to overdo it. Maybe consider starting a bit later if you plan on partying into the night. If you’re planning on partaking of alcohol try moderation and don’t forget to drink plenty of water. Finally, figure out where you can go to take the occasional break from the heat. Where is the nearest shade? Are you anywhere near a public building with air conditioning?
Celebrations come every year, but you only get one pair of ears. Do what you must to keep them safe while still enjoying the good times. If you are worried that you may have already suffered hearing damage it is important to make an appointment with a hearing care specialist.