The warm weather season is here, and your schedule is probably already loaded with tons of parties and plans. Almost everyone you know will be outside for some festivity the next couple weeks as Independence Day is just around the corner. You love to go to concerts, parades, marching bands, and of course-fireworks. There is no cause to stay in your house and pass up on the good times, but take a second to think about how you will protect your hearing when you do go out to celebrate this holiday season.
Noise-induced hearing loss has an effect on nearly 6 percent of the U.S. adult population less than the age of 70; that equals around 40 million people. It’s unfortunate that this form of hearing damage is pretty much 100 percent avoidable. It just takes a little foresight and good sense. Take into consideration some reasons you should really protect your ears as you enjoy yourself this season and how to do it.
FireWorks are the Loudest of all.
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. Noise-related hearing loss can begin at 85 decibels with repeated exposure. Fireworks typically range from 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 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. 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.
Because You Love Live Music
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.
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. Most of the time a live concert is much longer than that.
And Lets not Forget About the Crowds
At celebrations, crowd noise is usually the most underestimated hearing danger. 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 says that at sporting events the crowd volume is 80 to 90 dB. Unfortunately, it will probably be louder and more consistent at a celebration or parade.
Mix Celebratory Fun with a Little Good Sense
What type of protection should you use for your ears? It’s a lot more common sense than you might realize. Start by assessing your hearing risk at the event:
- Will there be loud music?
- Large crowds?
What precautions you take depends on how loud you think the celebration will be. While enjoying live music, crowds, or fireworks, you need to wear ear protection. If you still want to hear whats going on, but at a safe level, you should consider trying foam earplugs.
You will want to keep your family back at a safe distance at a fireworks show. 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.
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. Don’t go to the celebration too early if it’s going to be a late night. Bring lots of water with you to prevent dehydration and if you are drinking alcohol, do it in moderation. Finally, figure out where you can go to take the occasional break from the heat. Where is the nearest shade? Are you anywhere near a public building with air conditioning?
Celebrations come and go but your ears are a one time deal. 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.