Now that the weather is warm you probably have your agenda filled with parties and other plans. It’s almost The Fourth of July and nearly everyone you know will be outside enjoying. You love to attend concerts, parades, marching bands, and of course-fireworks. When going out to celebrate this summer, don’t pass up on the good times, just take a moment to carefully consider how you might protect your hearing.
Noise-induced hearing loss impacts about 6 percent of the U.S. adult populace under the age of 70; that equates to around 40 million people. It’s unfortunate that this type of hearing damage is pretty much 100 percent preventable. What’s necessary is a little forethought and good sense. Think about some examples of why you really should protect your ears as you celebrate this summer and how to do it.
Because Fireworks are the Most Harmful
At the top of the list of potential dangers associated with fireworks, hearing damage is at the top. 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. Noise-related hearing loss can begin at 85 decibels with repeated exposure. Fireworks typically range from 150 to 175 decibels. Even though adults may withstand up to 140 decibels for a short time, children can only deal with short periods at 120 decibels. This is according to the World Health Association. Both those numbers are lower than fireworks.
The good news? The further away you are away from the explosion, the lower your risk of hearing damage. 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. Children should be 70 yards away to protect their hearing and babies shouldn’t be there at all.
You Really Love Live Music
Who doesn’t? And summer celebrations bring out some of the best musicians in the world! 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!
Then There are the People
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 most likely 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? It’s a lot more common sense than you might think. Try to determine what the hearing risk is before the event:
- Will there be loud music?
- Large crowds?
You can make some useful choices based on what you expect from the celebration. If there is loud music or crowds, plan on wearing ear protection. If you still want to hear whats going on, but at a safe level, you should consider trying foam earplugs.
If there is a fireworks show, take the family back to a safe distance. The nature of fireworks means you can enjoy them without being in the front row. A block or two away is the safest minimum distance. There will be fewer people back there, too, so you’ll be able to enjoy the show more comfortably.
The Sumer Season has Other Risks Besides Hearing Damage
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.
Try not to overdo it. Maybe consider starting a bit later if you plan on partying into the night. If you’re planning on partaking of alcohol try moderation and don’t forget to drink plenty of water. You also need to be able to go somewhere and get out of the heat for a while. Is there a shady spot around? Are you anywhere near a public building with air conditioning?
Don’t expose yourself to permanent hearing damage for a once a year celebration. 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.