Now that the weather is warm you quite possibly have your agenda loaded with parties and other plans. Almost everybody you know will be outside for some festivity the next couple weeks as Independence Day is just around the corner. Parades, marching bands, and live music are typically part of the fun, and don’t forget fireworks! There is no cause to remain home and miss out on the fun, but take a moment to give consideration to how you should protect your ears when you do go out to celebrate this holiday season.
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 sad that this form of hearing damage is nearly 100 percent avoidable. It just takes a little planning and common sense. Give consideration to some examples of why you really should take care of your hearing as you enjoy yourself this season and the best ways of doing it.
Leading the List of Hearing risks are Booming Fireworks.
With all the potential dangers that come with fireworks, hearing damage tops the list. Hearing damage is not mentioned much by experts, but it tops the list of dangers associated with fireworks.
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. Noise-related hearing loss can begin at 85 decibels with repeated 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 usually louder than both those numbers.
The good news? The potential for hearing damage is exponentially lowered the further you are from the explosion. 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. 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. Most of the time a live concert is much longer than that.
The Crowd Noise Maybe Louder Than You Would Think
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 says that at sporting events the crowd volume is 80 to 90 dB. Unfortunately, it will probably be higher and more consistent at a parade or celebration.
A Small Amount of Common Sense Goes a Long Way
How can you keep your ears safe? You may not realize that it’s actually common sense. Try to determine what the hearing risk is before 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. It is important to wear hearing protection if you are going to be around loud music, crowds, or fireworks. If you still want to hear whats going on, but at a safe level, you should consider trying foam earplugs.
The family should be kept at a safe distance during a fireworks show. The nature of fireworks means you can enjoy them without being in the front row. A block or two away is the safest minimum distance. Being a little further away helps you avoid large crowds making the show more enjoyable
The Sumer Season has 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.
Try to take it easy. If the celebration is going to last all day and into the night, maybe start later. 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. Can you find some 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 schedule an appointment with a hearing care specialist.