Now that the weather is warm you most likely have your agenda filled with parties and other activities. Almost everyone you know will be outdoors for some event the next couple weeks as Independence Day is just around the corner. You love to attend concerts, parades, marching bands, and of course-fireworks. There is no reason you have to remain in your house and miss out on the fun, but take a moment to think about how you might protect your hearing when you do go out to celebrate this holiday season.
Noise-induced hearing loss impacts around 6 percent of the U.S. adult populace under the age of 70; that equates to around 40 million people. It’s unfortunate that this kind of hearing damage is virtually 100 percent avoidable. All you need is a little forethought and common sense. Think about some reasons you should protect your ears as you have fun this season and how to do it.
Fireworks are this Seasons Most Harmful Hearing Risks.
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. The typical range of fireworks is 150 to 175 decibels. 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 positive spin? The potential for hearing damage is exponentially lowered the further you are 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. Children should be 70 yards away to take care of their hearing and babies shouldn’t be there at all.
Live Music is Something you Love
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.
Hearing loss is a constant factor when it comes to repeated exposure to loud music. Live shows are usually louder than 100 decibels which becomes dangerous after only 15 minutes. Almost all concerts are longer than that!
It is Easy to Forget how Loud the Crowd is
The most underestimated danger for hearing damage is crowd noise. When the crowd is into the celebration everybody 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 probably be higher and more consistent at a celebration or parade.
Mix Celebratory Fun with a Little Common Sense
What type of protection should you use for your ears? Even though you may not know it, its actually common sense. Start by assessing your hearing risk at the event:
- Will there be loud music?
- Large crowds?
If you expect that the celebration is going to be loud you can make the smart choice. If there is loud music or crowds, plan on wearing ear protection. If you still want to hear whats going on, but at a safe level, you should consider trying foam earplugs.
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. 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
Holiday Celebrations Do Have 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. Don’t go to the celebration too early if it’s going to be a late night. If you’re planning on partaking of alcohol try moderation and don’t forget to drink plenty of water. Getting out of the heat for short periods is essential. Where is the nearest shade? Is there an air-conditioned building nearby?
Celebrations come and go but your ears are a one time deal. 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 schedule an appointment with a hearing care specialist.