The warm weather season is here, and your schedule is quite possibly already packed with tons of parties and activities. It’s almost The Fourth of July and nearly everyone you know will be outside celebrating. With it comes marching bands, live music, parades and, of course, fireworks. There is no reason you have to stay at home and lose out on the fun, but take a minute 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 about 6 percent of the U.S. adult populace below the age of 70; that equates to around 40 million people. The sad part is this kind of hearing damage is nearly 100 percent preventable. All you need is a little foresight and good sense. Take into consideration some examples of why you should really protect your hearing as you enjoy yourself this season and how to do it.
Topping the List of Hearing risks are Exploding Fireworks.
At the top of the list of potential dangers associated with fireworks, hearing damage is at the top. 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 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 deal with short periods at 120 decibels. This is according to the World Health Association. Fireworks are commonly louder than both those numbers.
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.
Because You Love Live Music
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.
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. It’s safe to say; most people attend concerts for longer than that!
And Lets not Forget About the Crowds
Crowds are the most underestimated hearing danger at celebrations. 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 most likely be louder and more consistent at a parade or celebration.
Mix Celebratory Fun with a Little Good Common Sense
What type of protection should you use for your ears? It’s a lot more common sense than you might think. Start by assessing your hearing risk at the event:
- Will there be loud music?
- Large crowds?
If you expect that the celebration is going to be loud you can make the smart choice. It is important to wear hearing protection if you are going to be around loud music, crowds, or fireworks. Something simple like foam earplugs will allow you to hear what’s going on still, but at a safe level.
You will want to keep your family back at a safe distance at a fireworks show. Fireworks can easily be enjoyed from a safe distance. A block or two away is the safest minimum distance. There will be fewer people back there, too, so you’ll be able to enjoy the show more comfortably.
Holiday Celebrations Do Have Other Risks Besides Hearing Damage
Sound levels are not the only concern here. Celebrations bring with them hot sun, too much drink, too little water and fatigue. These things can make hearing loss or tinnitus 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. You also need to be able to go somewhere and get out of the heat for a while. Can you find some shade? Can you get access to an air-conditioned building?
Celebrations come and go but your ears are a one time deal. 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 make an appointment with a hearing care specialist.