Summer is cool because you can fill your schedule with parties and other activities. Being outside celebrating on Independence Day is something a lot of people do. You love to attend live music events, parades, marching bands, and of course-fireworks. There is no reason you have to stay in your house and miss out on the good times, but take a second to give consideration to how you should take care of your ears when you do go out to celebrate this summer.
Noise-induced hearing loss has an effect on about 6 percent of the U.S. adult populace under the age of 70; that equates to around 40 million people. The sad part is this type of hearing damage is pretty much 100 percent avoidable. All you need is a little forethought and good sense. Take into consideration some reasons you really should take care of your hearing as you enjoy yourself this summer and how to do it.
Leading the List of Offenders are Exploding Fireworks.
With all the potential dangers that come with fireworks, 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. 150 to 175 decibels is the typical range of fireworks. Even though adults may endure up to 140 decibels for a short time, children can only take short periods at 120 decibels. This is according to the World Health Association. Both those numbers are lower than fireworks.
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. 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 of course some of the best musicians in the world come out to perform in the summer. 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. Live shows are usually louder than 100 decibels which becomes dangerous after only 15 minutes. It’s safe to say; most people attend concerts for longer than that!
And Lets not Forget About the Crowds
Crowds are the most underestimated hearing danger at celebrations. At a good event, there will be people on all sides of you shouting to talk over everyone else. 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 parade or celebration.
A Small Amount of Common Sense Goes a Long Way
What can you do to protect your ears? You might not realize that it’s actually common sense. Start by assessing your hearing risk at the event:
- Will there be loud music?
- Large crowds?
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.
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.
Hearing Damage is not the Only Risk of the Summer
Sound levels are not the only concern here. Hot sun, not enough water, excessive drinking, and fatigue also can be a concern. 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. Where is the nearest shade? Can you get access to an air-conditioned building?
Celebrations come every year, but you only get one pair of ears. 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.