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

Now that the weather is warm you probably have your agenda loaded with parties and other plans. It’s almost The Fourth of July and nearly everybody you know will be outside enjoying. Parades, marching bands, and live music are usually part of the fun, and don’t forget fireworks! When going out to celebrate this summer, don’t miss out on the fun, just take a second to consider how you might take care of your hearing.

Noise-induced hearing loss affects nearly 6 percent of the U.S. adult populace below the age of 70; that equates to around 40 million people. It’s unfortunate that this type of hearing damage is practically 100 percent avoidable. All you need is a little planning and good sense. Give consideration to some examples of why you really should protect your ears as you enjoy yourself this summer and the best ways of doing it.

FireWorks are the Most Noisy of all.

At the top of the list of potential dangers associated with fireworks, hearing damage is at the top. 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. Noise-related hearing loss can begin at 85 decibels with repeated 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 normally louder than both those numbers.

The positive spin? The potential for hearing damage is exponentially lowered the further you are from the explosion. Watching the fireworks show from nearby is definitely more damaging than watching them from your porch at home. 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? 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. 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!

Then There are the People

Crowds are the most underestimated hearing danger at celebrations. When the crowd is into the celebration everybody 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 quite possibly be higher and more consistent at a parade or celebration.

Use Common Sense When Celebrating

What type of protection should you use for your ears? Even though you may not know it, its actually common sense. Start by assessing your hearing risk at the event:

  • Will there be loud music?
  • Large crowds?
  • Fireworks?

You can make some useful choices based on what you expect from the celebration. While enjoying live music, crowds, or fireworks, you need to wear ear protection. If you still want to hear whats going on, but at a safe level, you should consider trying foam earplugs.

You will want to keep your family back at a safe distance at a fireworks show. You don’t have to be dangerously close to enjoy fireworks. Plan on watching from at least a block or two away. 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

Sound levels are not the only concern here. 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.

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. You also need to be able to go somewhere and get out of the heat for a while. Can you find some shade? Is there an air-conditioned building nearby?

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

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