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

The warm weather season is here, and your agenda is probably already filled with tons of parties and activities. It’s almost Independence Day and nearly everybody you know will be outside celebrating. With it comes marching bands, live music, parades and, of course, fireworks. When going out to celebrate this summer, don’t pass up on the good times, just take a moment to think about how you should protect your hearing.

Noise-induced hearing loss impacts around 6 percent of the U.S. adult populace less than the age of 70; that equates to around 40 million people. The unfortunate part is this type of hearing damage is nearly 100 percent avoidable. It just takes a little planning and good sense. Think about some reasons you should really protect your ears as you enjoy yourself this summer and how to do it.

FireWorks are the Most Noisy of all.

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 average range of fireworks is 150 to 175 decibels. 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. Still, both those numbers are lower than what you would expect from a firework

The positive spin? Your chance 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.

You Really 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. 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.

Crowd Noise is Easily Overlooked

The most underestimated danger for hearing damage is crowd noise. When the crowd is into the celebration everybody 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 probably be louder and more consistent at a celebration or parade.

Mix Celebratory good times with a Little Common Sense

How can you keep your ears protected? You may not realize that it’s actually common sense. Start by assessing your hearing risk at the event:

  • 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. 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.

If there is a fireworks show, take the family back to a safe distance. Fireworks can easily be enjoyed from a safe distance. A block or two away is the safest minimum distance. 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. Hot sun, not enough water, excessive drinking, and fatigue also can be a concern. These things can make hearing loss or tinnitus 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. Getting out of the heat for short periods is essential. Where is the nearest shade? Can you get access to an air-conditioned building?

Don’t expose yourself to permanent hearing damage for a once a year celebration. 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 schedule an appointment with a hearing care specialist.

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