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

The warm season is nice because you can fill your agenda with parties and other activities. Almost everyone you know will be outdoors for some celebration the next couple weeks as Independence Day is just around the corner. Parades, marching bands, and live music are typically part of the fun, and let’s not forget fireworks! When going out to have fun this holiday season, don’t miss out on the good times, just take a second to carefully consider how you might protect your hearing.

Noise-induced hearing loss affects 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 type of hearing damage is just about 100 percent avoidable. It just takes a little forethought and common sense. Think about some examples of why you should protect your ears as you have fun this season and how to do it.

Fireworks are this Seasons Most Harmful Offenders.

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. With extensive exposure, any sound over 85 decibels can cause noise-related hearing damage. 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. Fireworks are normally louder than both those numbers.

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. Boys Town recommends you stand at least 30 yards away if you are an adult. 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? 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!

And Lets not Forget About the Crowds

The most underestimated danger for hearing damage is crowd noise. When the crowd is into the celebration everybody 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 quite possibly be louder and more consistent at a celebration or parade.

Use Common Sense When Celebrating

What type of protection should you use for your ears? It’s a lot more common sense than you might think. Assess the hearing risk of the event beforehand:

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

You can make some practical choices based on what you expect from the celebration. 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. Plan on watching from at least a block or two away. 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 already have some hearing loss or if you suffer from tinnitus, these things will get worse.

Try not to overdo it. If the celebration is going to last all day and into the night, maybe start later. Always drink plenty of water and try to moderate your alcohol consumption. Getting out of the heat for short periods is essential. Is there a shady spot around? Are you anywhere near a public building with air conditioning?

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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