Summertime is great because you can fill your agenda with parties and other activities. Almost everybody you know will be outdoors for some event the next couple weeks as The Fourth of July is just around the corner. You love to go to live music events, parades, marching bands, and of course-fireworks. There is no cause to remain home and lose out on the fun, but take a minute to give consideration to how you should take care of 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 populace under the age of 70; that equals around 40 million people. The sad part is this kind of hearing damage is pretty much 100 percent preventable. It just takes a little planning and good sense. Think about some examples of why you really should protect your hearing as you enjoy yourself 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. Noise-related hearing loss can begin at 85 decibels with repeated exposure. The average range of fireworks is 150 to 175 decibels. For short durations 140 decibels is the limit for adults and 120 decibels for children before hearing damage may happen. Both those numbers are lower than fireworks.
The positive spin? Your chance of hearing loss is reduced the further you are away from the explosion. 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. Almost all concerts are longer than that!
Crowd Noise is Easily Overlooked
Crowds are the most underestimated hearing danger at celebrations. When the crowd is into the celebration everybody 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 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. Assess the hearing risk of the event beforehand:
- 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. With something simple like foam earplugs, you can still hear what’s going on, but at a much safer level.
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. A block or two away is the safest minimum distance. 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. Hot sun, not enough water, excessive drinking, and fatigue also can be a concern. These things can make hearing loss or tinnitus worse.
Try to take it easy. If the celebration is going to last all day and into the night, maybe start later. 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 take care of 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.