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

Summer is nice because you can fill your schedule with parties and plans. 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 good times, and let’s not forget fireworks! When going out to celebrate this holiday season, don’t lose out on the good times, just take a minute to consider how you should take care of your hearing.

Noise-induced hearing loss affects nearly 6 percent of the U.S. adult populace below the age of 70; that equates to around 40 million people. The sad part is this kind of hearing damage is pretty much 100 percent preventable. All you need is a little planning and common sense. Consider some examples of why you need to take care of your hearing as you celebrate this season and how to do it.

Basically Fireworks are the Worst

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. After all, any sound over 85 decibels is capable of causing noise-related damage with extensive exposure. Fireworks typically range from 150 to 175 decibels. Even though adults may tolerate 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 good news? Your chance of hearing loss is reduced the further you are away from the explosion. 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. Babies should not be there and children should be at least 70 yards away.

Because You Love Live Music

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.

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. Almost all concerts are 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 claims that crowd noise at sports games ranges between 80 to 90 decibels. Unfortunately, it will quite possibly be higher and more consistent at a parade or celebration.

Use Common Sense When Celebrating

What can you do to protect your ears? You may 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. 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.

You will want to keep your family back at a safe distance at a fireworks show. You don’t have to be dangerously close to enjoy fireworks. 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

Hearing Damage is not the Only Risk of the Summer

Sound levels are not the only concern here. Celebrations bring with them hot sun, too much drink, too little water and fatigue. If you already have some hearing loss or if you suffer from tinnitus, these things will get worse.

Remember to celebrate in moderation. Don’t go to the celebration too early if it’s going to be a late night. If you’re planning on partaking of alcohol try moderation and don’t forget to drink plenty of water. 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?

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 schedule an appointment with a hearing care specialist.

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