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

Summertime is great because you can fill your schedule with parties and plans. It’s almost Independence Day and nearly everyone you know will be outdoors celebrating. Parades, marching bands, and live music are often 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 think about how you might protect your hearing.

Noise-induced hearing loss impacts about 6 percent of the U.S. adult populace less than the age of 70; that equates to around 40 million people. It’s sad that this form of hearing damage is almost 100 percent preventable. It just takes a little planning and good sense. Think about some examples of why you should take care of your ears as you enjoy yourself this season and how to do it.

At the top of the List of Offenders are Exploding Fireworks.

There are many potential dangers of fireworks but 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. Fireworks typically range from 150 to 175 decibels. For short durations 140 decibels is the limit for adults and 120 decibels for children before hearing damage may happen. Fireworks are normally louder than both those numbers.

The good news? The further away you are away from the explosion, the lower your risk of hearing damage. For example, if you’re sitting in the stands at a field where they are shooting off the fireworks, you’re at greater risk than someone watching it from their porch. 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.

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.

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 everyone is talking and yelling loudly. The American Speech-Language-Hearing Association says that at sporting events the crowd volume is 80 to 90 dB. Unfortunately, it will quite possibly be higher and more consistent at a celebration or parade.

A Small Amount of Common Sense Goes a Long Way

What can you do to protect your ears? It’s a lot more common sense than you may realize. 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. If there is loud music or crowds, plan on wearing ear protection. Something simple like foam earplugs will allow you to hear what’s going on still, but at a safe level.

You will want to keep your family back at a safe distance at a fireworks show. Fireworks can easily be enjoyed from a safe distance. Watch from a couple of blocks away, at least, to be safe. 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. 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 not to overdo it. Maybe consider starting a bit later if you plan on partying into the 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. Can you find some shade? Can you get access to an air-conditioned building?

Celebrations come and go but your ears are a one time deal. 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.

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