The warm season is great because you can fill your schedule with parties and plans. It’s almost The Fourth of July and nearly everyone you know will be outdoors celebrating. You love to go to 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 second to give consideration to how you will protect your hearing when you do go out to celebrate this summer.
Noise-induced hearing loss impacts around 6 percent of the U.S. adult population under the age of 70; that equals around 40 million people. The unfortunate part is this form of hearing damage is virtually 100 percent avoidable. It just takes a little foresight and good sense. Consider some reasons you really should protect your ears as you enjoy yourself this season and how to do it.
FireWorks are the Loudest of all.
With all the potential dangers that come with fireworks, hearing damage tops the list. 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. 150 to 175 decibels is the typical range of fireworks. Even though adults may tolerate up to 140 decibels for a short time, children can only take short periods at 120 decibels. This is according to the World Health Association. Fireworks are commonly louder than both those numbers.
The positive spin? Your chance of hearing loss is reduced the further you are away from the explosion. People watching, for example, from their porch, would be less at risk than someone in the stands where the fireworks show is happening. If you are an adult it is recommended that you stand at least 30 yards away. Babies should not be there and children should be at least 70 yards away.
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.
Any person exposed to loud music faces the same possible consequence, but time is a factor when it comes to live music. Live shows are usually louder than 100 decibels which becomes dangerous after only 15 minutes. Almost all concerts are longer than that!
The Crowd Noise Maybe Louder Than You Would Think
The most underestimated danger for hearing damage is crowd noise. 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 probably be louder 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? You may not realize that it’s actually common sense. 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. With something simple like foam earplugs, you can still hear what’s going on, but at a much safer level.
The family should be kept at a safe distance during 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
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 already have some hearing loss or if you suffer from tinnitus, these things will get worse.
Try to take it easy. Maybe consider starting a bit later if you plan on partying into the night. Bring lots of water with you to prevent dehydration and if you are drinking alcohol, do it in moderation. Getting out of the heat for short periods is essential. Where is the nearest shade? 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 make an appointment with a hearing care specialist.