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Family enjoying independence day celebration oblivious to the risk of hearing loss from fireworks.

Summertime is great because you can fill your agenda with parties and other activities. Almost everybody you know will be outside for some event 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 reason you have to remain home and pass up on the fun, but take a moment to consider how you should protect your hearing when you do go out to celebrate this holiday season.

Noise-induced hearing loss affects around 6 percent of the U.S. adult populace less than the age of 70; that equals around 40 million people. The sad part is this kind of hearing damage is pretty much 100 percent avoidable. All you need is a little foresight and common sense. Think about some reasons you should really protect your ears as you enjoy yourself this summer and the best ways of doing it.

FireWorks are the Loudest of all.

There are many potential dangers of fireworks but 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. Fireworks typically range from 150 to 175 decibels. For short durations 140 decibels is the limit for adults and 120 decibels for children before hearing damage may happen. Fireworks are usually louder than both those numbers.

The good news? The further away you are away from the explosion, the lower your risk of hearing damage. 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? 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 everybody else. 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 higher and more consistent at a parade or celebration.

Mix Celebratory Fun with a Little Good Sense

What can you do to take care of your ears? You might 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?
  • Fireworks?

If you expect that the celebration is going to be loud you can make the smart choice. If there is loud music or crowds, plan on wearing ear protection. With something simple like foam earplugs, you can still hear what’s going on, but at a much safer level.

If there is a fireworks show, take the family back to a safe distance. You don’t have to be dangerously close to enjoy fireworks. Plan on watching from at least a block or two away. There will be fewer people back there, too, so you’ll be able to enjoy the show more comfortably.

What About the Non-Sound Risks at Celebrations?

Noise is only one of several concerns. Hot sun, not enough water, excessive drinking, and fatigue also can be a concern. These things can make hearing loss or tinnitus worse.

Try to take it easy. If the celebration is going to last all day and into the night, maybe start later. 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. Where is the nearest shade? Are you anywhere near a public building with air conditioning?

Celebrations come and go but your ears are a one time deal. 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 schedule an appointment with a hearing care specialist.

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