Now that the weather is warm you quite possibly have your agenda filled with parties and other activities. It’s almost The Fourth of July and nearly everybody you know will be outdoors celebrating. You love to attend live music events, parades, marching bands, and of course-fireworks. There is no cause to stay at home and miss out on the good times, but take a minute to think about how you will take care of your hearing when you do go out to celebrate this summer.
Noise-induced hearing loss has an effect on about 6 percent of the U.S. adult population under the age of 70; that equals around 40 million people. It’s unfortunate that this form of hearing damage is nearly 100 percent preventable. It just takes a little foresight and good sense. Consider some reasons you should protect your hearing as you have fun this season and how to do it.
FireWorks are the Loudest of all.
There are many potential dangers of fireworks but 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. After all, any sound over 85 decibels is capable of causing noise-related damage with extensive 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 positive spin? Your risk of hearing loss is reduced the further you are away 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? 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.
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.
The Crowd Noise Maybe Louder Than You Would Think
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 claims that crowd noise at sports games ranges between 80 to 90 decibels. Unfortunately, it will most likely be louder and more consistent at a parade or celebration.
Mix Celebratory good times with a Little Good Common Sense
What type of protection should you use for your ears? It’s a lot more common sense than you may realize. Assess the hearing risk of the event beforehand:
- Will there be loud music?
- Large crowds?
If you expect that the celebration is going to be loud you can make the smart choice. It is important to wear hearing protection if you are going to be around loud music, crowds, or fireworks. 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. 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. 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. If the celebration is going to last all day and into the night, maybe start later. If you’re planning on partaking of alcohol try moderation and don’t forget to drink plenty of water. You also need to be able to go somewhere and get out of the heat for a while. Is there a shady spot around? Are you anywhere near a public building with air conditioning?
Celebrations come every year, but you only get one pair of ears. Enjoy the holiday but be sure to protect your ears also. If you are worried that you may have already suffered hearing damage it is important to make an appointment with a hearing care specialist.