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

The warm weather season is here, and your agenda is quite possibly already filled with all kinds of parties and activities. Almost everybody you know will be outside for some event the next couple weeks as The Fourth of July is just around the corner. Parades, marching bands, and live music are usually part of the fun, and let’s not forget fireworks! When going out to celebrate this holiday season, don’t miss out on the good times, just take a moment to consider how you might take care of your hearing.

Noise-induced hearing loss has an effect on around 6 percent of the U.S. adult population below the age of 70; that equals around 40 million people. The sad part is this kind of hearing damage is just about 100 percent avoidable. All you need is a little foresight and good sense. Think about some reasons you really should protect your ears as you celebrate this season and how to do it.

Leading the List of Offenders are Exploding Fireworks.

There are many potential dangers of fireworks but 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. The standard range of fireworks is 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. Still, both those numbers are lower than what you would expect from a firework

The positive spin? Your risk 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. 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? 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.

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!

Then There are the People

Crowds are the most underestimated hearing danger at celebrations. 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 probably be louder and more consistent at a celebration or parade.

A Small Amount of Common Sense Goes a Long Way

What can you do to take care of your ears? Even though you may not know it, its actually common sense. Assess the hearing risk of the event beforehand:

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

If you expect that the celebration is going to be loud you can make the smart choice. While enjoying live music, crowds, or fireworks, you need to wear ear protection. If you still want to hear whats going on, but at a safe level, you should consider trying foam earplugs.

If there is a fireworks show, take the family back to a safe distance. 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

The Sumer Season has Other Risks Besides Hearing Damage

Noise is only one of several concerns. 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.

Try not to overdo it. Maybe consider starting a bit later if you plan on partying into the night. Bring lots of water with you to prevent dehydration and if you are drinking alcohol, do it in moderation. Getting out of the heat for short periods is essential. 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. 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 schedule an appointment with a hearing care specialist.