The summer season is here, and your schedule is probably already loaded with lots of parties and activities. Almost everyone you know will be outside for some festivity the next couple weeks as Independence Day is just around the corner. With it comes marching bands, live music, parades and, of course, fireworks. When going out to celebrate this holiday season, don’t lose out on the good times, just take a minute to carefully consider how you might take care of your hearing.
Noise-induced hearing loss affects nearly 6 percent of the U.S. adult populace below the age of 70; that equates to around 40 million people. It’s sad that this type of hearing damage is virtually 100 percent avoidable. It just takes a little foresight and good sense. Consider 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 Summers Worst Offenders.
With all the potential dangers that come with fireworks, hearing damage tops the list. 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. Even though adults may tolerate 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. Still, both those numbers are lower than what you would expect from a firework
The positive spin? The potential for hearing damage is exponentially lowered the further you are from the explosion. Watching the fireworks show from nearby is definitely more damaging than watching them from your porch at home. 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.
Any person exposed to loud music faces the same possible consequence, but time is a factor when it comes to live 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.
Then There are the People
The most underestimated danger for hearing damage is crowd noise. When the crowd is into the celebration everyone 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 quite possibly be higher and more consistent at a celebration or parade.
Use Common Sense When Celebrating
What can you do to protect 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. If you still want to hear whats going on, but at a safe level, you should consider trying foam earplugs.
The family should be kept at a safe distance during 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
Hearing Damage is not the Only Risk of the Summer
Sound levels are not the only concern here. Hot sun, not enough water, excessive drinking, and fatigue also can be a concern. If you have tinnitus or suffer from hearing loss these things will make them worse.
Try to take it easy. If the celebration is going to last all day and into the night, maybe start later. Bring lots of water with you to prevent dehydration and if you are drinking alcohol, do it in moderation. You also need to be able to go somewhere and get out of the heat for a while. Is there a shady spot around? Is there an air-conditioned building nearby?
Celebrations come every year, but you only get one pair of ears. 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 make an appointment with a hearing care specialist.