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

The warm weather season is here, and your schedule is quite possibly already loaded with tons of parties and plans. Almost everybody you know will be outdoors for some event the next couple weeks as The Fourth of July is just around the corner. Parades, marching bands, and live music are frequently part of the fun, and let’s not forget fireworks! There is no cause to stay home and miss out on the fun, but take a second to give consideration to how you will protect your ears when you do go out to celebrate this summer.

Noise-induced hearing loss impacts nearly 6 percent of the U.S. adult population below the age of 70; that equates to around 40 million people. The sad part is this kind of hearing damage is practically 100 percent avoidable. All you need is a little forethought and common sense. Consider some reasons you should protect your hearing as you enjoy yourself this season and the best ways of doing it.

Fireworks are the Summers Most Harmful Hearing Risks.

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. After all, any sound over 85 decibels is capable of causing noise-related damage with extensive exposure. The standard range of fireworks is 150 to 175 decibels. 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. 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. 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? 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!

The Crowd Noise Maybe Louder Than You Would Think

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 everyone 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 louder and more consistent at a parade or celebration.

Use Common Sense When Celebrating

What can you do to take care of your ears? It’s a lot more common sense than you may think. 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. 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. The nature of fireworks means you can enjoy them without being in the front row. Watch from a couple of blocks away, at least, to be safe. It can also be more enjoyable to be a little further back where the crowds are less.

Holiday Celebrations Do Have Other Risks Besides Hearing Damage

There is more to talk about here than just sound. 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 to take it easy. If the celebration is going to last all day and into the night, maybe start later. Bring lots of water with you to prevent dehydration and if you are drinking alcohol, do it in moderation. You also need to be able to go somewhere and get out of the heat for a while. Where is the nearest shade? Are you anywhere near a public building with air conditioning?

Don’t expose yourself to permanent hearing damage for a once a year celebration. You can protect 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.