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

Now that the weather is warm you probably have your schedule filled with parties and other activities. Being outdoors partying on Independence Day is something a lot of people do. Parades, marching bands, and live music are frequently part of the good times, and don’t forget fireworks! There is no cause to remain home and miss out on the good times, but take a moment to consider how you might protect your hearing when you do go out to celebrate this summer.

Noise-induced hearing loss affects nearly 6 percent of the U.S. adult population less than the age of 70; that equates to around 40 million people. The sad part is this kind of hearing damage is almost 100 percent avoidable. What’s necessary is a little forethought and good sense. Take into consideration some examples of why you really should take care of your ears as you enjoy yourself this season and how to do it.

FireWorks are the Most Noisy of all.

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. 150 to 175 decibels is the typical range of fireworks. For short durations 140 decibels is the limit for adults and 120 decibels for children before hearing damage may happen. Fireworks are usually louder than both those numbers.

The good news? The potential for hearing damage is exponentially lowered the further you are 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 take care of their hearing and babies shouldn’t be there at all.

Because You Love Live Music

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. Almost all concerts are longer than that!

Crowd Noise is Easily Overlooked

The most underestimated danger for hearing damage is crowd noise. 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 most likely be louder and more consistent at a parade or celebration.

A Small Amount of Common Sense Goes a Long Way

What type of protection should you use for your ears? You might not realize that it’s actually common sense. 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. It is important to wear hearing protection if you are going to be around loud music, crowds, or fireworks. Something simple like foam earplugs will allow you to hear what’s going on still, but at a safe level.

If there is a fireworks show, take the family back to a safe distance. 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. Being a little further away helps you avoid large crowds making the show more enjoyable

The Sumer Season has Other Risks Besides Hearing Damage

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 have tinnitus or suffer from hearing loss these things will make them 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. 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. 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 schedule an appointment with a hearing care specialist.