The warm season is nice because you can fill your agenda with parties and other activities. Almost everyone you know will be outside for some event the next couple weeks as Independence Day is just around the corner. With it comes marching bands, live music, parades and, of course, fireworks. There is no cause to remain at home and miss out on the fun, but take a second to give consideration to how you might protect your hearing when you do go out to celebrate this summer.
Noise-induced hearing loss has an effect on about 6 percent of the U.S. adult population below the age of 70; that equals around 40 million people. It’s sad that this form of hearing damage is practically 100 percent avoidable. It just takes a little foresight and common sense. Think about some examples of why you really should protect your ears as you enjoy yourself this season and the best ways of doing it.
FireWorks are the Most Noisy of all.
There are many potential dangers of fireworks but hearing damage tops the list. Despite that, you rarely hear experts warning people about this threat like they do with fire or burns.
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 typical range of fireworks is 150 to 175 decibels. Even though adults may tolerate up to 140 decibels for a short time, children can only deal with short periods at 120 decibels. This is according to the World Health Association. Still, both those numbers are lower than what you would expect from a firework
The good news? The further away you are away from the explosion, the lower your risk of hearing damage. 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. Children should be 70 yards away to protect their hearing and babies shouldn’t be there at all.
You Really Love Live Music
Who doesn’t? Summer is the greatest time for some of the best musicians come out to play. 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. Live shows are usually louder than 100 decibels which becomes dangerous after only 15 minutes. Almost all concerts are longer than that!
Crowd Noise is Easily Overlooked
Crowds are the most underestimated hearing danger at celebrations. When the crowd is into the celebration everybody 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 probably be louder and more consistent at a parade or celebration.
Mix Celebratory good times with a Little Common Sense
What can you do to protect your ears? Even though you may not know it, its actually common sense. Try to determine what the hearing risk is before the event:
- Will there be loud music?
- Large crowds?
You can make some practical choices based on what you expect from the celebration. While enjoying live music, crowds, or fireworks, you need to wear 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. There will be fewer people back there, too, so you’ll be able to enjoy the show more comfortably.
What About the Non-Sound Risks at Celebrations?
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 already have some hearing loss or if you suffer from tinnitus, these things will get worse.
Try not to overdo it. Don’t go to the celebration too early if it’s going to be a late night. Bring lots of water with you to prevent dehydration and if you are drinking alcohol, do it in moderation. You also need to be able to go somewhere and get out of the heat for a while. Where is the nearest shade? Are you anywhere near a public building with air conditioning?
Celebrations come and go but your ears are a one time deal. You can protect your ears and still have a great time. If you are worried that you may have already suffered hearing damage it is important to make an appointment with a hearing care specialist.