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

Summer is nice because you can fill your agenda with parties and plans. Almost everybody you know will be outside for some event the next couple weeks as The Fourth of July is just around the corner. You love to go to live music events, parades, marching bands, and of course-fireworks. When going out to celebrate this summer, don’t miss out on the fun, just take a second to think about how you should take care of your hearing.

Noise-induced hearing loss affects about 6 percent of the U.S. adult population below the age of 70; that equates to around 40 million people. The unfortunate part is this kind of hearing damage is almost 100 percent preventable. What’s necessary is a little forethought and common sense. Consider some reasons you need to take care of your hearing as you enjoy yourself this summer and how to do it.

Basically Fireworks are the Most Harmful

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. 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 deal with short periods at 120 decibels. This is according to the World Health Association. Both those numbers are lower than fireworks.

The good news? Your risk 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. Children should be 70 yards away to protect 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. Live shows are usually louder than 100 decibels which becomes dangerous after only 15 minutes. Most of the time a live concert is much longer than that.

It is Easy to Forget how Loud the Crowd is

At celebrations, crowd noise is usually the most underestimated hearing danger. When the crowd is into the celebration everybody 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 most likely be louder and more consistent at a celebration or parade.

A Small Amount of Common Sense Goes a Long Way

How can you keep your ears safe? It’s a lot more common sense than you may think. Assess the hearing risk of the event beforehand:

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

What precautions you take depends on how loud you think the celebration will be. It is important to wear hearing protection if you are going to be around loud music, crowds, or fireworks. 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. Watch from a couple of blocks away, at least, to be safe. Being a little further away helps you avoid large crowds making the show more enjoyable

Hearing Damage is not the Only Risk of the Summer

There is more to talk about here than just sound. Hot sun, not enough water, excessive drinking, and fatigue also can be a concern. If you already have some hearing loss or if you suffer from tinnitus, these things will get worse.

Try to take it easy. Don’t go to the celebration too early if it’s going to be a late 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? Are you anywhere near a public building with air conditioning?

Don’t expose yourself to permanent hearing damage for a once a year celebration. You can take care of 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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