Now that the weather is warm you most likely have your agenda loaded with parties and other plans. Being outdoors partying on Independence Day is something a lot of people do. Parades, marching bands, and live music are commonly part of the fun, and let’s not forget fireworks! When going out to celebrate this holiday season, don’t pass up on the good times, just take a moment to consider how you might take care of your hearing.
Noise-induced hearing loss has an effect on nearly 6 percent of the U.S. adult population under the age of 70; that equates to around 40 million people. It’s sad that this form of hearing damage is just about 100 percent preventable. It just takes a little foresight and good sense. Consider some examples of why you need to take care of your ears as you have fun this summer and how to do it.
FireWorks are the Most Noisy of all.
With all the potential dangers that come with fireworks, hearing damage tops the list. Experts frequently warn people about burns or fires, but usually don’t say much about hearing damage.
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. Even though adults may tolerate 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 good news? Your risk of hearing loss is reduced the further you are away 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. 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? 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.
Any person exposed to loud music faces the same possible consequence, but time is a factor when it comes to live music. A sound at 100 decibels, which is typical level for live shows, becomes dangerous after just 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. 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 good times with a Little Good Common Sense
How can you keep your ears safe? Even though you might not know it, its actually common sense. Try to determine what the hearing risk is before the event:
- Will there be loud music?
- Large crowds?
What precautions you take depends on how loud you think the celebration will be. If there is loud music or crowds, plan on wearing ear protection. If you still want to hear whats going on, but at a safe level, you should consider trying foam earplugs.
The family should be kept at a safe distance during a fireworks show. You don’t have to be dangerously close to enjoy fireworks. 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.
Hearing Damage is not the Only Risk of the Summer
Noise is only one of several concerns. Celebrations bring with them hot sun, too much drink, too little water and fatigue. 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. You also need to be able to go somewhere and get out of the heat for a while. 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 make an appointment with a hearing care specialist.