The summer season is here, and your agenda is quite possibly already loaded with lots of parties and 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 miss out on the fun, but take a moment to think about how you should take care of your ears when you do go out to celebrate this summer.
Noise-induced hearing loss affects around 6 percent of the U.S. adult population below the age of 70; that equals around 40 million people. The sad part is this type of hearing damage is virtually 100 percent avoidable. All you need is a little forethought and good sense. Give consideration to some examples of why you need to protect your hearing as you enjoy yourself this summer and how to do it.
FireWorks are the Most Noisy of all.
At the top of the list of potential dangers associated with fireworks, hearing damage is at the top. 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. Even though adults may tolerate up to 140 decibels for a short time, children can only handle short periods at 120 decibels. This is according to the World Health Association. Both those numbers are lower than fireworks.
The good news? Your chance 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. 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.
You Really Love Live Music
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!
Then There are the People
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 everyone 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 higher and more consistent at a celebration or parade.
A Small Amount of Common Sense Goes a Long Way
What can you do to protect your ears? It’s a lot more common sense than you might realize. 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. It is important to wear hearing protection if you are going to be around loud music, crowds, or fireworks. 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. The nature of fireworks means you can enjoy them without being in the front row. A block or two away is the safest minimum distance. It can also be more enjoyable to be a little further back where the crowds are less.
Holiday Celebrations Do Have Other Risks Besides Hearing Damage
There is more to talk about here than just sound. Hot sun, not enough water, excessive drinking, and fatigue also can be a concern. These things can make hearing loss or tinnitus 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. Is there a shady spot around? Can you get access to an air-conditioned building?
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.