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

The warm weather season is here, and your schedule is quite possibly already filled with all kinds of parties and activities. Almost everyone you know will be outside for some celebration the next couple weeks as The Fourth of July is just around the corner. 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 lose out on the good times, just take a minute to consider how you might take care of your hearing.

Noise-induced hearing loss impacts around 6 percent of the U.S. adult populace less than the age of 70; that equates to around 40 million people. It’s unfortunate that this kind of hearing damage is nearly 100 percent preventable. What’s necessary is a little foresight and common sense. Consider some examples of why you need to take care of your hearing as you have fun this season and the best ways of doing it.

Leading the List of Hearing risks are Exploding Fireworks.

There are many potential dangers of fireworks but hearing damage tops the list. Hearing damage is not mentioned much by experts, but it tops the list of dangers associated with fireworks.

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. The standard range of fireworks is 150 to 175 decibels. For short durations 140 decibels is the limit for adults and 120 decibels for children before hearing damage may happen. Still, both those numbers are lower than what you would expect from a firework

The good news? 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.

Because You 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.

Crowd Noise is Easily Overlooked

At celebrations, crowd noise is usually the most underestimated hearing danger. 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 higher and more consistent at a parade or celebration.

Use Common Sense When Celebrating

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?
  • Fireworks?

You can make some useful choices based on what you expect from the celebration. 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.

If there is a fireworks show, take the family back to a safe distance. 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. 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. Maybe consider starting a bit later if you plan on partying into the night. Bring lots of water with you to prevent dehydration and if you are drinking alcohol, do it in moderation. Finally, figure out where you can go to take the occasional break from the heat. 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. You can protect your ears and still have a great time. 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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