The warm weather season is here, and your schedule is quite possibly already packed with lots of parties and activities. It’s almost Independence Day and nearly everybody you know will be outside enjoying. You love to go to concerts, parades, marching bands, and of course-fireworks. When going out to have fun this summer, don’t lose out on the good times, just take a minute to consider how you might protect your hearing.
Noise-induced hearing loss impacts nearly 6 percent of the U.S. adult populace below the age of 70; that equals around 40 million people. It’s unfortunate that this kind of hearing damage is virtually 100 percent preventable. It just takes a little foresight and common sense. Think about some reasons you should protect your ears as you enjoy yourself this season and the best ways of doing it.
Leading the List of Hearing risks are Exploding Fireworks.
There are many potential dangers of fireworks but hearing damage tops the list. 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. The average range of fireworks is 150 to 175 decibels. For short durations 140 decibels is the limit for adults and 120 decibels for children before hearing damage may happen. Still, both those numbers are lower than what you would expect from a firework
The positive spin? The potential for hearing damage is exponentially lowered the further you are from the explosion. People watching, for example, from their porch, would be less at risk than someone in the stands where the fireworks show is happening. If you are an adult it is recommended that you stand at least 30 yards away. Babies should not be there and children should be at least 70 yards away.
You Really 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!
It is Easy to Forget how Loud the Crowd is
At celebrations, crowd noise is usually the most underestimated hearing danger. When the crowd is into the celebration everyone is talking and yelling loudly. The American Speech-Language-Hearing Association says that at sporting events the crowd volume is 80 to 90 dB. Unfortunately, it will most likely be higher and more consistent at a celebration or parade.
A Small Amount of Common Sense Goes a Long Way
What can you do to protect your ears? It’s a lot more common sense than you may realize. Start by assessing your hearing risk at the event:
- Will there be loud music?
- Large crowds?
What precautions you take depends on how loud you think the celebration will be. While enjoying live music, crowds, or fireworks, you need to wear ear protection. With something simple like foam earplugs, you can still hear what’s going on, but at a much safer level.
If there is a fireworks show, take the family back to a safe distance. You don’t have to be dangerously close to enjoy fireworks. A block or two away is the safest minimum distance. It can also be more enjoyable to be a little further back where the crowds are less.
Holiday Celebrations Do Have Other Risks Besides Hearing Damage
There is more to talk about here than just sound. Celebrations bring with them hot sun, too much drink, too little water and fatigue. If you have tinnitus or suffer from hearing loss these things will make them worse.
Remember to celebrate in moderation. Maybe consider starting a bit later if you plan on partying into the night. Always drink plenty of water and try to moderate your alcohol consumption. You also need to be able to go somewhere and get out of the heat for a while. Is there a shady spot around? Can you get access to an air-conditioned building?
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.