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

The summer season is here, and your agenda is most likely already filled with lots of parties and activities. It’s almost The Fourth of July and nearly everybody you know will be outside enjoying. Parades, marching bands, and live music are commonly part of the fun, and let’s not forget fireworks! When going out to celebrate this summer, don’t miss out on the fun, just take a second to carefully consider how you might take care of your hearing.

Noise-induced hearing loss affects about 6 percent of the U.S. adult populace below the age of 70; that equals around 40 million people. It’s sad that this form of hearing damage is practically 100 percent preventable. It just takes a little forethought and good sense. Consider some reasons you need to protect your ears as you celebrate this season and how to do it.

FireWorks are the Loudest of all.

With all the potential dangers that come with fireworks, 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. Noise-related hearing loss can begin at 85 decibels with repeated exposure. The typical range of fireworks is 150 to 175 decibels. Even though adults may withstand 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 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. Children should be 70 yards away to take care of their hearing and babies shouldn’t be there at all.

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.

Crowd Noise is Easily Overlooked

At celebrations, crowd noise is usually the most underestimated hearing danger. 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.

A Small Amount of Common Sense Goes a Long Way

What type of protection should you use for your ears? Even though you might not know it, its actually common sense. Start by assessing your hearing risk at 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. While enjoying live music, crowds, or fireworks, you need to wear ear protection. Something simple like foam earplugs will allow you to hear what’s going on still, but at a safe level.

The family should be kept at a safe distance during a fireworks show. You don’t have to be dangerously close to enjoy fireworks. 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.

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 not to overdo it. Maybe consider starting a bit later if you plan on partying into the night. Bring lots of water with you to prevent dehydration and if you are drinking alcohol, do it in moderation. Finally, figure out where you can go to take the occasional break from the heat. Where is the nearest shade? Can you get access to an air-conditioned building?

Don’t expose yourself to permanent hearing damage for a once a year celebration. 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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