The warm weather season is here, and your schedule is quite possibly already loaded with lots of parties and plans. Almost everyone you know will be outside for some festivity the next couple weeks as Independence Day is just around the corner. You love to attend live music events, parades, marching bands, and of course-fireworks. There is no reason you have to remain home and miss out on the good times, but take a second to consider how you should protect your hearing when you do go out to celebrate this holiday season.
Noise-induced hearing loss impacts about 6 percent of the U.S. adult population below the age of 70; that equals around 40 million people. The sad part is this form of hearing damage is practically 100 percent avoidable. It just takes a little planning and common sense. Give consideration to some reasons you really should protect your ears as you enjoy yourself this summer and the best ways of doing it.
Topping the List of Hearing risks are Booming Fireworks.
With all the potential dangers that come with fireworks, 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. 150 to 175 decibels is the typical range of fireworks. For short durations 140 decibels is the limit for adults and 120 decibels for children before hearing damage may happen. Still, both those numbers are lower than what you would expect from a firework
The positive spin? Your risk of hearing loss is reduced the further you are away from the explosion. For example, if you’re sitting in the stands at a field where they are shooting off the fireworks, you’re at greater risk than someone watching it from their porch. Boys Town recommends you stand at least 30 yards away if you are an adult. Children should be 70 yards away to protect their hearing and babies shouldn’t be there at all.
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. Almost all concerts are longer than that!
Crowd Noise is Easily Overlooked
The most underestimated danger for hearing damage is crowd noise. When the crowd is into the celebration everyone is talking and yelling loudly. The American Speech-Language-Hearing Association claims that crowd noise at sports games ranges between 80 to 90 decibels. Unfortunately, it will probably be louder and more consistent at a parade or celebration.
Use Common Sense When Celebrating
How can you keep your ears safe? 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?
What precautions you take depends on how loud you think the celebration will be. 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.
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. 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. 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.
Try to take it easy. Maybe consider starting a bit later if you plan on partying into the night. Bring lots of water with you to prevent dehydration and if you are drinking alcohol, do it in moderation. 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 every year, but you only get one pair of ears. 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 schedule an appointment with a hearing care specialist.