The warm weather season is here, and your agenda is quite possibly already packed with all kinds of parties and activities. Almost everybody you know will be outside 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. When going out to have fun this holiday season, don’t miss out on the good times, just take a moment to think about how you might protect your hearing.
Noise-induced hearing loss impacts about 6 percent of the U.S. adult populace below the age of 70; that equates to around 40 million people. The unfortunate part is this form of hearing damage is nearly 100 percent preventable. It just takes a little foresight and good sense. Take into consideration some examples of why you should really take care of your ears as you celebrate this summer and how to do it.
Leading the List of Offenders are Booming Fireworks.
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. With extensive exposure, any sound over 85 decibels can cause noise-related hearing damage. 150 to 175 decibels is the typical range of fireworks. For short durations 140 decibels is the limit for adults and 120 decibels for children before hearing damage may happen. Still, both those numbers are lower than what you would expect from a firework
The positive spin? Your chance of hearing loss is reduced the further you are away 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. 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.
Live Music is Something you Love
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. 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!
And Lets not Forget About the Crowds
At celebrations, crowd noise is usually the most underestimated hearing danger. When the crowd is into the celebration everybody is talking and yelling loudly. The American Speech-Language-Hearing Association says that at sporting events the crowd volume is 80 to 90 dB. Unfortunately, it will most likely be louder and more consistent at a celebration or parade.
A Small Amount of Common Sense Goes a Long Way
How can you keep your ears protected? You may not realize that it’s actually common sense. Try to determine what the hearing risk is before the event:
- Will there be loud music?
- Large crowds?
You can make some practical 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.
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. Being a little further away helps you avoid large crowds making the show more enjoyable
Holiday Celebrations Do Have Other Risks Besides Hearing Damage
There is more to talk about here than just sound. Celebrations bring with them hot sun, too much drink, too little water and fatigue. If you have tinnitus or suffer from hearing loss these things will make them worse.
Remember to celebrate in moderation. Don’t go to the celebration too early if it’s going to be a late 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? Can you get access to an air-conditioned building?
Don’t expose yourself to permanent hearing damage for a once a year celebration. 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.