Now that the weather is warm you most likely have your agenda packed with parties and other plans. Almost everyone you know will be outside for some party the next couple weeks as Independence Day is just around the corner. You love to attend live music events, parades, marching bands, and of course-fireworks. There is no reason you have to remain home and lose out on the fun, but take a moment to think about how you will take care of your hearing when you do go out to celebrate this summer.
Noise-induced hearing loss impacts nearly 6 percent of the U.S. adult population under the age of 70; that equates to around 40 million people. The sad part is this form of hearing damage is virtually 100 percent avoidable. All you need is a little forethought and good sense. Take into consideration some examples of why you need to protect your hearing as you have fun this summer and how to do it.
At the top of the List of Offenders are Booming Fireworks.
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. 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. 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. Babies should not be there and children should be at least 70 yards away.
You Really 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. A sound at 100 decibels, which is typical level for live shows, becomes dangerous after just 15 minutes. Most of the time a live concert is much longer than that.
Then There are the People
The most underestimated danger for hearing damage is crowd noise. When the crowd is into the celebration everyone is talking and yelling loudly. The American Speech-Language-Hearing Association claims that crowd noise at sports games ranges between 80 to 90 decibels. Unfortunately, it will most likely be higher and more consistent at a celebration or parade.
Mix Celebratory good times with a Little Good Sense
How can you keep your ears safe? 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?
If you expect that the celebration is going to be loud you can make the smart choice. 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.
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. Watch from a couple of blocks away, at least, to be safe. It can also be more enjoyable to be a little further back where the crowds are less.
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 already have some hearing loss or if you suffer from tinnitus, these things will get 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. Can you find some shade? Are you anywhere near a public building with air conditioning?
Don’t expose yourself to permanent hearing damage for a once a year celebration. You can take care of your ears and still have a great time. If you are worried that you may have already suffered hearing damage it is important to schedule an appointment with a hearing care specialist.