Now that it’s summer you most likely have your agenda packed with parties and other activities. It’s almost Independence Day and nearly everybody you know will be outdoors enjoying. Parades, marching bands, and live music are typically part of the good times, and let’s not forget fireworks! When going out to celebrate this summer, don’t miss out on the fun, just take a second to think about how you should protect your hearing.
Noise-induced hearing loss impacts about 6 percent of the U.S. adult populace less than the age of 70; that equates to around 40 million people. The sad part is this type of hearing damage is virtually 100 percent avoidable. What’s required is a little forethought and good sense. Consider some reasons you should really take care of your ears as you have fun this season and the best ways of doing it.
FireWorks are the Most Noisy of all.
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. With extensive exposure, any sound over 85 decibels can cause noise-related hearing damage. 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. Still, both those numbers are lower than what you would expect from a firework
The good news? The potential for hearing damage is exponentially lowered the further you are 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. 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.
Live Music is Something you Love
Who doesn’t? And of course some of the best musicians in the world come out to perform in the summer. 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. It’s safe to say; most people attend concerts for longer than that!
Crowd Noise is Easily Overlooked
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 everyone else. 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 higher and more consistent at a celebration or parade.
Use Common Sense When Celebrating
What can you do to take care of your ears? It’s a lot more common sense than you may think. 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.
The family should be kept at a safe distance during a fireworks show. Fireworks can easily be enjoyed from a safe distance. Plan on watching from at least a block or two away. There will be fewer people back there, too, so you’ll be able to enjoy the show more comfortably.
What About the Non-Sound Risks at Celebrations?
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 already have some hearing loss or if you suffer from tinnitus, these things will get worse.
Remember to celebrate in moderation. Maybe consider starting a bit later if you plan on partying into the night. Always drink plenty of water and try to moderate your alcohol consumption. Getting out of the heat for short periods is essential. Where is the nearest shade? Are you anywhere near a public building with air conditioning?
Don’t expose yourself to permanent hearing damage for a once a year celebration. Enjoy the holiday but be sure to protect your ears also. If you are worried that you may have already suffered hearing damage it is important to schedule an appointment with a hearing care specialist.