Hear in Edmonton - Edmonton, Alberta

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

Summertime is nice because you can fill your schedule with parties and other activities. It’s almost The Fourth of July and nearly everyone you know will be outdoors enjoying. Parades, marching bands, and live music are commonly part of the fun, and let’s not forget fireworks! When going out to celebrate this holiday season, don’t lose out on the fun, just take a second to consider how you should take care of your hearing.

Noise-induced hearing loss affects about 6 percent of the U.S. adult population less than the age of 70; that equals around 40 million people. The unfortunate part is this form of hearing damage is nearly 100 percent preventable. All you need is a little planning and good sense. Consider some reasons you should take care of your ears as you have fun this season and the best ways of doing it.

Basically Fireworks are the Worst

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. After all, any sound over 85 decibels is capable of causing noise-related damage with extensive exposure. 150 to 175 decibels is the typical range of fireworks. Even though adults may withstand 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. Fireworks are commonly louder than both those numbers.

The positive spin? The further away you are away from the explosion, the lower your risk of hearing damage. Watching the fireworks show from nearby is definitely more damaging than watching them from your porch at home. 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.

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.

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.

And Lets not Forget About the Crowds

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

Use Common Sense When Celebrating

How can you keep your ears protected? You might not realize that it’s actually common sense. 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. While enjoying live music, crowds, or fireworks, you need to wear ear protection. Something simple like foam earplugs will allow you to hear what’s going on still, but at a safe level.

The family should be kept at a safe distance during a fireworks show. The nature of fireworks means you can enjoy them without being in the front row. A block or two away is the safest minimum distance. There will be fewer people back there, too, so you’ll be able to enjoy the show more comfortably.

The Sumer Season has 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.

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. You also need to be able to go somewhere and get out of the heat for a while. Where is the nearest shade? Can you get access to an air-conditioned building?

Don’t expose yourself to permanent hearing damage for a once a year celebration. Do what you must to keep them safe while still enjoying the good times. 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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