Why You Need to Protect Your Ears at Parties and Parades
The Hearing Clinic - Scarborough, ON

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

The summer season is here, and your schedule is most likely already packed with lots of parties and plans. Being outdoors celebrating on The Fourth of July is something lots of people do. Parades, marching bands, and live music are commonly part of the fun, and let’s not forget fireworks! When going out to have fun this summer, don’t lose out on the fun, just take a moment to think about how you should protect your hearing.

Noise-induced hearing loss affects about 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 preventable. It just takes a little foresight and common sense. Think about some examples of why you need to take care of your ears as you have fun this season and how to do it.

FireWorks are the Loudest of all.

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. With extensive exposure, any sound over 85 decibels can cause noise-related hearing damage. 150 to 175 decibels is the typical range of fireworks. Even though adults may endure up to 140 decibels for a short time, children can only handle 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. 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 protect their hearing and babies shouldn’t be there at all.

Live Music is Something you Love

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. Live shows are usually louder than 100 decibels which becomes dangerous after only 15 minutes. It’s safe to say; most people attend concerts for longer than that!

Crowd Noise is Easily Overlooked

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 says that at sporting events the crowd volume is 80 to 90 dB. Unfortunately, it will probably be louder and more consistent at a celebration or parade.

Use Common Sense When Celebrating

What type of protection should you use for your ears? Even though you might not know it, its actually common sense. Assess the hearing risk of the event beforehand:

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

You can make some practical choices based on what you expect from the celebration. 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.

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.

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.

Remember to celebrate in moderation. 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. Getting out of the heat for short periods is essential. Can you find some 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 make an appointment with a hearing care specialist.

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