Summertime is cool because you can fill your schedule with parties and other activities. Almost everyone you know will be outdoors for some festivity the next couple weeks as Independence Day is just around the corner. With it comes marching bands, live music, parades and, of course, fireworks. There is no reason you have to remain at home and pass up on the good times, but take a moment to give consideration to how you should take care of your hearing when you do go out to celebrate this holiday season.
Noise-induced hearing loss affects about 6 percent of the U.S. adult population under the age of 70; that equals around 40 million people. The sad part is this form of hearing damage is virtually 100 percent preventable. What’s needed is a little forethought and common sense. Take into consideration some examples of why you need to take care of 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. After all, any sound over 85 decibels is capable of causing noise-related damage with extensive exposure. 150 to 175 decibels is the typical range of fireworks. Even though adults may endure up to 140 decibels for a short time, children can only deal with short periods at 120 decibels. This is according to the World Health Association. Still, both those numbers are lower than what you would expect from a firework
The good news? The further away you are away from the explosion, the lower your risk of hearing damage. 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 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. Live shows are usually louder than 100 decibels which becomes dangerous after only 15 minutes. Almost all concerts are longer than that!
The Crowd Noise Maybe Louder Than You Would Think
Crowds are the most underestimated hearing danger at celebrations. When the crowd is into the celebration everybody is talking and yelling loudly. 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 celebration or parade.
Mix Celebratory Fun with a Little Common Sense
What can you do to protect your ears? Even though you might not know it, its actually common sense. Start by assessing your hearing risk at 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.
If there is a fireworks show, take the family back to a safe distance. The nature of fireworks means you can enjoy them without being in the front row. Plan on watching from at least a block or two away. 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
Noise is only one of several concerns. Celebrations bring with them hot sun, too much drink, too little water and fatigue. If you already have some hearing loss or if you suffer from tinnitus, these things will get worse.
Try not to overdo it. 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. Getting out of the heat for short periods is essential. 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 take care of 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.