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

Summer is great because you can fill your schedule with parties and other activities. Almost everyone you know will be outdoors for some celebration the next couple weeks as The Fourth of July is just around the corner. With it comes marching bands, live music, parades and, of course, fireworks. There is no cause to stay in your house and lose out on the good times, but take a second to consider how you will protect your hearing when you do go out to celebrate this summer.

Noise-induced hearing loss affects around 6 percent of the U.S. adult populace less than the age of 70; that equals around 40 million people. The unfortunate part is this type of hearing damage is practically 100 percent avoidable. It just takes a little forethought and good sense. Take into consideration some reasons you really should protect your hearing as you have fun this summer and how to do it.

Because Fireworks are the Most Harmful

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. 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 commonly louder than both those numbers.

The good news? Your chance of hearing loss is reduced the further you are away from the explosion. 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.

Live Music is Something you Love

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. 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 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 may realize. Try to determine what the hearing risk is before the event:

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

What precautions you take depends on how loud you think the celebration will be. 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.

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. Being a little further away helps you avoid large crowds making the show more enjoyable

What About the Non-Sound Risks at Celebrations?

There is more to talk about here than just sound. Celebrations bring with them hot sun, too much drink, too little water and fatigue. These things can make hearing loss or tinnitus worse.

Try to take it easy. Don’t go to the celebration too early if it’s going to be a late night. Always drink plenty of water and try to moderate your alcohol consumption. 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?

Celebrations come and go but your ears are a one time deal. 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 schedule an appointment with a hearing care specialist.

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