Now that the weather is warm you quite possibly have your schedule filled with parties and other plans. Being outside celebrating on The Fourth of July is something lots of people do. With it comes marching bands, live music, parades and, of course, fireworks. There is no cause to remain at home and lose out on the good times, but take a moment to give consideration to how you will take care of your ears when you do go out to celebrate this summer.
Noise-induced hearing loss impacts nearly 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 form of hearing damage is just about 100 percent preventable. All you need is a little planning and good sense. Take into consideration some examples of why you need to protect your ears as you have fun this summer and the best ways of doing it.
Topping the List of Offenders are Booming Fireworks.
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. Noise-related hearing loss can begin at 85 decibels with repeated exposure. The standard range of fireworks is 150 to 175 decibels. For short durations 140 decibels is the limit for adults and 120 decibels for children before hearing damage may happen. Fireworks are commonly louder than both those numbers.
The good news? Your risk 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. 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
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 everybody else. 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 louder and more consistent at a parade or celebration.
Mix Celebratory Fun with a Little Good Common Sense
What type of protection should you use for your ears? 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. 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.
If there is a fireworks show, take the family back to a safe distance. 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
What About the Non-Sound Risks at Celebrations?
There is more to talk about here than just sound. Celebrations bring with them hot sun, too much drink, too little water and fatigue. These things can make hearing loss or tinnitus worse.
Try not to overdo it. Maybe consider starting a bit later if you plan on partying into the night. Always drink plenty of water and try to moderate your alcohol consumption. 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?
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.