The warm weather season is here, and your agenda is probably already filled with all kinds of parties and activities. Almost everyone you know will be outdoors for some party the next couple weeks as Independence Day is just around the corner. You love to go to concerts, parades, marching bands, and of course-fireworks. There is no cause to remain home and lose out on the fun, but take a moment to consider how you will take care of your ears when you do go out to celebrate this summer.
Noise-induced hearing loss affects around 6 percent of the U.S. adult populace below the age of 70; that equals around 40 million people. The sad part is this form of hearing damage is just about 100 percent avoidable. What’s needed is a little planning and common sense. Consider some reasons you really should protect your hearing as you enjoy yourself this summer and the best ways of doing it.
Because Fireworks are the Most Harmful
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. 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. 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. People watching, for example, from their porch, would be less at risk than someone in the stands where the fireworks show is happening. If you are an adult it is recommended that you stand at least 30 yards away. Children should be 70 yards away to take care of 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. It’s safe to say; most people attend concerts for 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 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 most likely be louder and more consistent at a parade or celebration.
Mix Celebratory good times with a Little Good Sense
What type of protection should you use for your ears? It’s a lot more common sense than you might think. 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. 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. If you already have some hearing loss or if you suffer from tinnitus, these things will get worse.
Try to take it easy. 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. Is there a shady spot around? Can you get access to an air-conditioned building?
Celebrations come and go but your ears are a one time deal. Enjoy the holiday but be sure to protect your ears also. If you are worried that you may have already suffered hearing damage it is important to make an appointment with a hearing care specialist.