The warm weather season is here, and your agenda is quite possibly already packed with lots of parties and activities. Almost everyone you know will be outdoors for some party the next couple weeks as The Fourth of July is just around the corner. With it comes marching bands, live music, parades and, of course, fireworks. There is no cause to remain at home and pass up on the good times, but take a second to give consideration to how you will protect your ears when you do go out to celebrate this holiday season.
Noise-induced hearing loss affects around 6 percent of the U.S. adult population under the age of 70; that equals around 40 million people. It’s sad that this form of hearing damage is just about 100 percent avoidable. All you need is a little planning and good sense. Consider some examples of why you need to take care of your hearing as you enjoy yourself this season 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. 150 to 175 decibels is the typical range of fireworks. 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. Both those numbers are lower than fireworks.
The good news? 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.
Live Music is Something you Love
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.
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!
And Lets not Forget About the Crowds
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 most likely be louder and more consistent at a celebration or parade.
Mix Celebratory Fun with a Little Good Common Sense
What can you do to take care of 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?
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. Something simple like foam earplugs will allow you to hear what’s going on still, but at a safe level.
The family should be kept at a safe distance during a fireworks show. Fireworks can easily be enjoyed from a safe distance. Plan on watching from at least a block or two away. Being a little further away helps you avoid large crowds making the show more enjoyable
What About the Non-Sound Risks at Celebrations?
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 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. Finally, figure out where you can go to take the occasional break from the heat. Is there a shady spot around? Is there an air-conditioned building nearby?
Celebrations come and go but your ears are a one time deal. 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.