The warm season is nice because you can fill your schedule with parties and plans. It’s almost Independence Day and nearly everybody you know will be outside enjoying. With it comes marching bands, live music, parades and, of course, fireworks. When going out to celebrate this holiday season, don’t lose out on the good times, just take a moment to consider how you might take care of your hearing.
Noise-induced hearing loss affects around 6 percent of the U.S. adult populace below the age of 70; that equates to around 40 million people. The sad part is this kind of hearing damage is practically 100 percent preventable. All you need is a little forethought and good sense. Think about some examples of why you should take care of your ears as you celebrate this summer and the best ways of doing it.
FireWorks are the Loudest of all.
There are many potential dangers of fireworks but 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. With extensive exposure, any sound over 85 decibels can cause noise-related hearing damage. Fireworks typically range from 150 to 175 decibels. For short durations 140 decibels is the limit for adults and 120 decibels for children before hearing damage may happen. Fireworks are commonly louder than both those numbers.
The good news? The further away you are away from the explosion, the lower your risk of hearing damage. 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? 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.
Hearing loss is a constant factor when it comes to repeated exposure to loud 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!
Then There are the People
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 most likely be higher and more consistent at a celebration or parade.
A Small Amount of Common Sense Goes a Long Way
How can you keep your ears protected? You might 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?
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. 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. Fireworks can easily be enjoyed from a safe distance. 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.
Hearing Damage is not the Only Risk of the Summer
Noise is only one of several concerns. Hot sun, not enough water, excessive drinking, and fatigue also can be a concern. If you have tinnitus or suffer from hearing loss these things will make them 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. Is there a shady spot around? Is there an air-conditioned building nearby?
Celebrations come every year, but you only get one pair of ears. You can take care of 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.