The warm season is nice because you can fill your agenda with parties and plans. Being outdoors partying on Independence Day is something a lot of people do. Parades, marching bands, and live music are commonly part of the fun, and don’t forget fireworks! When going out to celebrate this holiday season, don’t lose out on the good times, just take a second to carefully consider how you should protect your hearing.
Noise-induced hearing loss impacts 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 type of hearing damage is pretty much 100 percent preventable. It just takes a little forethought and common sense. Consider some examples of why you should protect your ears as you celebrate this summer and how to do it.
Topping the List of Hearing risks are Exploding Fireworks.
With all the potential dangers that come with fireworks, hearing damage tops the list. 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. Even though adults may endure 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. Still, both those numbers are lower than what you would expect from a firework
The positive spin? The further away you are away from the explosion, the lower your risk of hearing damage. 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. 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.
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!
And Lets not Forget About the Crowds
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 probably be louder and more consistent at a parade or celebration.
A Small Amount of Common Sense Goes a Long Way
How can you keep your ears protected? 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?
If you expect that the celebration is going to be loud you can make the smart choice. While enjoying live music, crowds, or fireworks, you need to wear ear protection. 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. Watch from a couple of blocks away, at least, to be safe. Being a little further away helps you avoid large crowds making the show more enjoyable
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. These things can make hearing loss or tinnitus worse.
Try to take it easy. Maybe consider starting a bit later if you plan on partying into the night. If you’re planning on partaking of alcohol try moderation and don’t forget to drink plenty of water. Finally, figure out where you can go to take the occasional break from the heat. Can you find some shade? Are you anywhere near a public building with air conditioning?
Don’t expose yourself to permanent hearing damage for a once a year celebration. 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.