Center For Better Hearing - Glens Falls, NY

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

The warm season is cool because you can fill your schedule with parties and plans. Being outdoors celebrating on The Fourth of July is something lots of people do. You love to attend live music events, parades, marching bands, and of course-fireworks. There is no cause to stay in your house and pass up on the fun, but take a moment 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 has an effect on around 6 percent of the U.S. adult populace less than the age of 70; that equates to around 40 million people. It’s sad that this kind of hearing damage is practically 100 percent preventable. All you need is a little foresight and good sense. Take into consideration some examples of why you really should take care of your ears as you celebrate this summer and the best ways of doing it.

FireWorks are the Most Noisy 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. Fireworks typically range from 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. Fireworks are commonly louder than both those numbers.

The good news? The further away you are away from the explosion, the lower your risk of hearing damage. For example, if you’re sitting in the stands at a field where they are shooting off the fireworks, you’re at greater risk than someone watching it from their porch. 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? 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

Crowds are the most underestimated hearing danger at celebrations. When the crowd is into the celebration everyone 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 probably 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 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. If there is loud music or crowds, plan on wearing ear protection. With something simple like foam earplugs, you can still hear what’s going on, but at a much safer level.

The family should be kept at a safe distance during a fireworks show. Fireworks can easily be enjoyed from a safe distance. 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.

Holiday Celebrations Do Have Other Risks Besides Hearing Damage

Sound levels are not the only concern here. Hot sun, not enough water, excessive drinking, and fatigue also can be a concern. These things can make hearing loss or tinnitus worse.

Try not to overdo it. Maybe consider starting a bit later if you plan on partying into the 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. Enjoy the holiday but be sure to protect 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.

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