The warm weather season is here, and your schedule is probably already loaded with tons of parties and plans. It’s almost The Fourth of July and nearly everyone you know will be outdoors enjoying. Parades, marching bands, and live music are frequently part of the good times, and don’t forget fireworks! When going out to have fun this holiday season, don’t pass up on the good times, just take a moment to carefully consider how you should protect your hearing.
Noise-induced hearing loss impacts about 6 percent of the U.S. adult population below the age of 70; that equates to around 40 million people. It’s sad that this type of hearing damage is nearly 100 percent avoidable. What’s required is a little planning and common sense. Take into consideration some reasons you should really take care of your hearing as you enjoy yourself this summer and the best ways of doing it.
Because Fireworks are the Worst
There are many potential dangers of fireworks but hearing damage tops the list. Hearing damage is not mentioned much by experts, but it tops the list of dangers associated with fireworks.
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. The World Health Association estimates that adults could withstand up to 140 decibels of sound for a short time, but children will surely have damage at just 120. Fireworks are usually louder than both those numbers.
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. Boys Town recommends you stand at least 30 yards away if you are an adult. Children should be 70 yards away to take care of their hearing and babies shouldn’t be there at all.
Because You Love Live Music
Who doesn’t? Summer is the greatest time for some of the best musicians come out to play. 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. It’s safe to say; most people attend concerts for longer than that!
And Lets not Forget About the Crowds
The most underestimated danger for hearing damage is crowd noise. 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 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 safe? Even though you may not know it, its actually common sense. Assess the hearing risk of the event beforehand:
- Will there be loud music?
- Large crowds?
What precautions you take depends on how loud you think the celebration will be. If there is loud music or crowds, plan on wearing ear protection. Something simple like foam earplugs will allow you to hear what’s going on still, but at a safe level.
If there is a fireworks show, take the family back to a safe distance. You don’t have to be dangerously close to enjoy fireworks. 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.
Hearing Damage is not the Only Risk of the Summer
Sound levels are not the only concern here. Celebrations bring with them hot sun, too much drink, too little water and fatigue. These things can make hearing loss or tinnitus worse.
Remember to celebrate in moderation. 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. Getting out of the heat for short periods is essential. Can you find some shade? Is there an air-conditioned building nearby?
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 make an appointment with a hearing care specialist.