The warm weather season is here, and your agenda is quite possibly already loaded with all kinds of parties and plans. It’s almost The Fourth of July and nearly everyone you know will be outdoors celebrating. With it comes marching bands, live music, parades and, of course, fireworks. When going out to celebrate this holiday season, don’t miss out on the fun, just take a moment to carefully consider how you should take care of your hearing.
Noise-induced hearing loss has an effect on about 6 percent of the U.S. adult populace below the age of 70; that equates to around 40 million people. It’s unfortunate that this kind of hearing damage is almost 100 percent preventable. All you need is a little foresight and common sense. Give consideration to some reasons you should really protect your ears as you celebrate this season and how to do it.
Fireworks are the Summers Most Harmful Offenders.
At the top of the list of potential dangers associated with fireworks, hearing damage is at the top. Despite that, you rarely hear experts warning people about this threat like they do with fire or burns.
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. 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. Fireworks are usually 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. 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.
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. 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!
The Crowd Noise Maybe Louder Than You Would Think
Crowds are the most underestimated hearing danger at celebrations. 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 louder and more consistent at a parade or celebration.
A Small Amount of Common Sense Goes a Long Way
What can you do to protect your ears? Even though you may not know it, its actually common sense. Assess the hearing risk of the event beforehand:
- 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. Something simple like foam earplugs will allow you to hear what’s going on still, but at a safe level.
The family should be kept at a safe distance during a fireworks show. The nature of fireworks means you can enjoy them without being in the front row. Plan on watching from at least a block or two away. Being a little further away helps you avoid large crowds making the show more enjoyable
What About the Non-Sound Risks at Celebrations?
Sound levels are not the only concern here. Celebrations bring with them hot sun, too much drink, too little water and fatigue. 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. Finally, figure out where you can go to take the occasional break from the heat. Can you find some shade? Are you anywhere near a public building with air conditioning?
Celebrations come every year, but you only get one pair of ears. 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.