Now that the weather is warm you quite possibly have your agenda filled with parties and other activities. Being outside partying on Independence Day is something a lot of people do. With it comes marching bands, live music, parades and, of course, fireworks. When going out to celebrate this summer, don’t lose out on the good times, just take a moment 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 under the age of 70; that equals around 40 million people. It’s sad that this type of hearing damage is almost 100 percent avoidable. All you need is a little foresight and common sense. Think about some examples of why you need to protect your hearing as you have fun this summer and how to do it.
Fireworks are this Seasons Most Harmful Offenders.
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. With extensive exposure, any sound over 85 decibels can cause noise-related hearing damage. 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 handle short periods at 120 decibels. This is according to the World Health Association. Fireworks are normally louder than both those numbers.
The positive spin? The further away you are away from the explosion, the lower your risk of hearing damage. For example, if you’re sitting in the stands at a field where they are shooting off the fireworks, you’re at greater risk than someone watching it from their porch. 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.
Live Music is Something you Love
Who doesn’t? And summer celebrations bring out some of the best musicians in the world! 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. Almost all concerts are longer than that!
And Lets not Forget About the Crowds
Crowds are the most underestimated hearing danger at celebrations. At a good event, there will be people on all sides of you shouting to talk over everyone else. The American Speech-Language-Hearing Association claims that crowd noise at sports games ranges between 80 to 90 decibels. Unfortunately, it will probably be higher and more consistent at a celebration or parade.
Mix Celebratory good times with a Little Good Common Sense
What type of protection should you use for your ears? It’s a lot more common sense than you might think. 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. 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.
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. Plan on watching from at least a block or two away. 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. These things can make hearing loss or tinnitus worse.
Try not to overdo it. If the celebration is going to last all day and into the night, maybe start later. 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. Is there a shady spot around? 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 schedule an appointment with a hearing care specialist.