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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 most likely already loaded with lots of parties and plans. Being outside celebrating on Independence Day is something a lot of people do. Parades, marching bands, and live music are typically part of the good times, and let’s not forget fireworks! When going out to celebrate this summer, don’t pass up on the good times, just take a second to think about how you might protect your hearing.

Noise-induced hearing loss impacts around 6 percent of the U.S. adult populace below the age of 70; that equals around 40 million people. The sad part is this kind of hearing damage is pretty much 100 percent avoidable. What’s required is a little planning and good sense. Think about some reasons you need to protect your hearing as you celebrate this season and the best ways of doing it.

At the top of the List of Hearing risks are Booming Fireworks.

At the top of the list of potential dangers associated with fireworks, hearing damage is at the top. 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. Noise-related hearing loss can begin at 85 decibels with repeated exposure. Fireworks typically range from 150 to 175 decibels. For short durations 140 decibels is the limit for adults and 120 decibels for children before hearing damage may happen. 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. 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. Babies should not be there and children should be at least 70 yards away.

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. 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

At celebrations, crowd noise is usually the most underestimated hearing danger. 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 probably be louder and more consistent at a celebration or parade.

Mix Celebratory good times with a Little Good Common Sense

What type of protection should you use for your ears? It’s a lot more common sense than you might realize. 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. While enjoying live music, crowds, or fireworks, you need to wear ear protection. 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. 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. Being a little further away helps you avoid large crowds making the show more enjoyable

What About the Non-Sound Risks at Celebrations?

Sound levels are not the only concern here. Celebrations bring with them hot sun, too much drink, too little water and fatigue. If you have tinnitus or suffer from hearing loss these things will make them worse.

Try not to overdo it. Don’t go to the celebration too early if it’s going to be a late 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. 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.