Summertime is great because you can fill your schedule with parties and plans. Being outside partying on The Fourth of July is something a lot of people do. With it comes marching bands, live music, parades and, of course, fireworks. There is no reason you have to remain home and lose out on the fun, but take a second to think about how you should take care of your hearing when you do go out to celebrate this summer.
Noise-induced hearing loss has an effect on around 6 percent of the U.S. adult population below the age of 70; that equates to around 40 million people. It’s sad that this type of hearing damage is pretty much 100 percent avoidable. What’s required is a little foresight and good sense. Consider some examples of why you should really take care of your hearing as you have fun this season and how to do it.
Basically Fireworks are the Most Harmful
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. For short durations 140 decibels is the limit for adults and 120 decibels for children before hearing damage may happen. Still, both those numbers are lower than what you would expect from a firework
The positive spin? 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. Babies should not be there and children should be at least 70 yards away.
You Really Love Live Music
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.
Then There are the People
The most underestimated danger for hearing damage is crowd noise. At a good event, there will be people on all sides of you shouting to talk over everybody else. The American Speech-Language-Hearing Association claims that crowd noise at sports games ranges between 80 to 90 decibels. Unfortunately, it will probably be higher and more consistent at a parade or celebration.
A Small Amount of Common Sense Goes a Long Way
What type of protection should you use for your ears? Even though you might not know it, its 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. It is important to wear hearing protection if you are going to be around loud music, crowds, or fireworks. 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. Fireworks can easily be enjoyed from a safe distance. 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
The Sumer Season has 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. If you have tinnitus or suffer from hearing loss these things will make them worse.
Try not to overdo it. If the celebration is going to last all day and into the night, maybe start later. Bring lots of water with you to prevent dehydration and if you are drinking alcohol, do it in moderation. Finally, figure out where you can go to take the occasional break from the heat. Can you find some shade? Can you get access to an air-conditioned building?
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.