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

Summer is cool because you can fill your schedule with parties and other activities. Almost everybody you know will be outside for some event the next couple weeks as Independence Day is just around the corner. You love to attend concerts, parades, marching bands, and of course-fireworks. There is no reason you have to stay in your house and lose out on the fun, but take a second to think about how you might protect your ears when you do go out to celebrate this holiday season.

Noise-induced hearing loss has an effect on nearly 6 percent of the U.S. adult population less than the age of 70; that equals around 40 million people. The sad part is this form of hearing damage is pretty much 100 percent preventable. What’s required is a little foresight and good sense. Give consideration to some examples of why you need to protect your hearing as you have fun this summer and how to do it.

Leading the List of Hearing risks are Booming Fireworks.

There are many potential dangers of fireworks but hearing damage tops the list. Hearing damage is not mentioned much by experts, but it tops the list of dangers associated with fireworks.

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

The positive spin? The potential for hearing damage is exponentially lowered the further you are 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. Babies should not be there and children should be at least 70 yards away.

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. Live shows are usually louder than 100 decibels which becomes dangerous after only 15 minutes. Most of the time a live concert is much longer than that.

It is Easy to Forget how Loud the Crowd is

Crowds are the most underestimated hearing danger at celebrations. When the crowd is into the celebration everyone is talking and yelling loudly. 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.

Mix Celebratory good times with a Little Common Sense

How can you keep your ears protected? Even though you may not know it, its 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. While enjoying live music, crowds, or fireworks, you need to wear ear protection. With something simple like foam earplugs, you can still hear what’s going on, but at a much safer 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. Being a little further away helps you avoid large crowds making the show more enjoyable

Hearing Damage is not the Only Risk of the Summer

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 already have some hearing loss or if you suffer from tinnitus, these things will get worse.

Remember to celebrate in moderation. 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. Is there a shady spot around? 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.