The summer season is here, and your schedule is quite possibly already packed with lots of parties and plans. Being outdoors partying on Independence Day is something lots of people do. With it comes marching bands, live music, parades and, of course, fireworks. There is no reason you have to stay home and lose out on the fun, but take a minute to consider how you should protect your hearing when you do go out to celebrate this holiday season.
Noise-induced hearing loss impacts around 6 percent of the U.S. adult populace under the age of 70; that equates to around 40 million people. The unfortunate part is this type of hearing damage is virtually 100 percent avoidable. It just takes a little foresight and good sense. Take into consideration some reasons you should really take care of your hearing as you enjoy yourself this season and the best ways of doing it.
Fireworks are this Seasons Most Harmful Hearing Risks.
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. Noise-related hearing loss can begin at 85 decibels with repeated exposure. The standard range of fireworks is 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 positive spin? The potential for hearing damage is exponentially lowered the further you are 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. 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. 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!
The Crowd Noise Maybe Louder Than You Would Think
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 claims that crowd noise at sports games ranges between 80 to 90 decibels. Unfortunately, it will most likely be louder and more consistent at a celebration or parade.
A Small Amount of Common Sense Goes a Long Way
What type of protection should you use for your ears? It’s a lot more common sense than you may realize. Assess the hearing risk of the event beforehand:
- Will there be loud music?
- Large crowds?
You can make some useful choices based on what you expect from the celebration. If there is loud music or crowds, plan on wearing ear protection. Something simple like foam earplugs will allow you to hear what’s going on still, but at a safe level.
If there is a fireworks show, take the family back to a safe distance. Fireworks can easily be enjoyed from a safe distance. 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.
The Sumer Season has 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. 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? 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 schedule an appointment with a hearing care specialist.