The summer season is here, and your agenda is quite possibly already filled with all kinds of parties and activities. It’s almost Independence Day and nearly everybody you know will be outdoors enjoying. With it comes marching bands, live music, parades and, of course, fireworks. There is no cause to stay home and pass up on the fun, but take a moment to think of how you will take care of your ears 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 populace less than the age of 70; that equates to around 40 million people. The unfortunate part is this type of hearing damage is just about 100 percent avoidable. All you need is a little forethought and common sense. Take into consideration some reasons you really should take care of your ears as you have fun this season and how to do it.
FireWorks are the Loudest of all.
There are many potential dangers of fireworks but 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. With extensive exposure, any sound over 85 decibels can cause noise-related hearing damage. Fireworks typically range from 150 to 175 decibels. Even though adults may tolerate up to 140 decibels for a short time, children can only take short periods at 120 decibels. This is according to the World Health Association. Still, both those numbers are lower than what you would expect from a firework
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. 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? 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 everyone 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.
Use Common Sense When Celebrating
What type of protection should you use for your ears? You may not realize that it’s actually common sense. Start by assessing your hearing risk at the event:
- Will there be loud music?
- Large crowds?
You can make some useful choices based on what you expect from the celebration. While enjoying live music, crowds, or fireworks, you need to wear ear protection. 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. Fireworks can easily be enjoyed from a safe distance. Watch from a couple of blocks away, at least, to be safe. There will be fewer people back there, too, so you’ll be able to enjoy the show more comfortably.
Holiday Celebrations Do Have 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. If the celebration is going to last all day and into the night, maybe start later. 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. Where is the nearest shade? Can you get access to an air-conditioned building?
Don’t expose yourself to permanent hearing damage for a once a year celebration. You can protect 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.