The warm weather season is here, and your agenda is quite possibly already loaded with lots of parties and plans. It’s almost Independence Day and nearly everyone you know will be outdoors celebrating. With it comes marching bands, live music, parades and, of course, fireworks. There is no cause to stay in your house and miss out on the good times, but take a moment to give consideration to how you will protect your ears when you do go out to celebrate this holiday season.
Noise-induced hearing loss affects nearly 6 percent of the U.S. adult population less than the age of 70; that equals around 40 million people. The unfortunate part is this form of hearing damage is virtually 100 percent preventable. What’s required is a little forethought and good sense. Consider some reasons you really should take care of your hearing as you enjoy yourself 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. Noise-related hearing loss can begin at 85 decibels with repeated exposure. The average range of fireworks is 150 to 175 decibels. Even though adults may withstand 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. Both those numbers are lower than fireworks.
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. 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? 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. 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 everyone 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 quite possibly be louder and more consistent at a celebration or parade.
Mix Celebratory good times with a Little Good Sense
What type of protection should you use for your ears? It’s a lot more common sense than you may realize. 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. 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.
You will want to keep your family back at a safe distance at 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. Being a little further away helps you avoid large crowds making the show more enjoyable
Holiday Celebrations Do Have Other Risks Besides Hearing Damage
There is more to talk about here than just sound. 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. Always drink plenty of water and try to moderate your alcohol consumption. Getting out of the heat for short periods is essential. Can you find some shade? Can you get access to an air-conditioned building?
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.