Now that it’s summer you probably have your agenda filled with parties and other plans. It’s almost The Fourth of July and nearly everybody you know will be outside celebrating. Parades, marching bands, and live music are typically part of the good times, and let’s not forget fireworks! There is no reason you have to stay in your house and miss out on the fun, but take a moment to think of how you should take care of your ears 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. It’s unfortunate that this kind of hearing damage is just about 100 percent preventable. It just takes a little planning and good sense. Consider some reasons you should really protect your ears as you have fun this summer and how to do it.
Fireworks are this Seasons Most Harmful Offenders.
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. The World Health Association estimates that adults could withstand up to 140 decibels of sound for a short time, but children will surely have damage at just 120. Fireworks are usually louder than both those numbers.
The good news? The potential for hearing damage is exponentially lowered the further you are from the explosion. Watching the fireworks show from nearby is definitely more damaging than watching them from your porch at home. 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.
You Really Love Live Music
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.
Any person exposed to loud music faces the same possible consequence, but time is a factor when it comes to live music. Live shows are usually louder than 100 decibels which becomes dangerous after only 15 minutes. Most of the time a live concert is much longer than that.
Then There are the People
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 probably be louder and more consistent at a parade or celebration.
A Small Amount of Common Sense Goes a Long Way
What type of protection should you use for your ears? Even though you may 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 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. Watch from a couple of blocks away, at least, to be safe. 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. If you have tinnitus or suffer from hearing loss these things will make them worse.
Remember to celebrate in moderation. If the celebration is going to last all day and into the night, maybe start later. If you’re planning on partaking of alcohol try moderation and don’t forget to drink plenty of water. Getting out of the heat for short periods is essential. Where is the nearest shade? Is there an air-conditioned building nearby?
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.