How to Protect Your Hearing During 4th of July
With summer approaching and 4th of July being right around the corner, festivities and bonding opportunities have probably gotten you excited. However, that also means that you should take precaution to stay safe throughout the celebrations. In particular, you run the risk of hearing loss, whether you blast fireworks in your driveway or watch one in a public place.
Dangers of Loud Fireworks on Hearing
The loudness of fireworks can range from 150 – 170 decibels (dB). To put this in perspective the loudness of an airplane engine ranges from 120 – 140 dB. Would you listen to an airplane engine in your backyard without ear protection?
Adults should not be subjected to peak sound pressure levels of more than 140 dB, according to the World Health Organization. The recommended maximum level for youngsters is 120 dB. You would need to be 15 to 20 meters away from a firework that explodes at 170 dB to be at a safe distance. Kids need to be at least 50 to 60 meters away, and infants should not be brought to firework displays at all as they tend to be susceptible to the largest amount of sound pressure.
Hearing loud noises at this level can lead to the following:
- Ringing in the ears, or tinnitus, which is a symptom of hearing loss.
- Temporary threshold shift, which is a slight loss of hearing that typically lasts only 24 hours
- Permanent hearing loss that cannot be restored
Hearing Protection against Fireworks
The good news is there are many ways you can protect your hearing.
- Foam earplugs: These can be found at your local pharmacy, home improvement store or online. A pair of single use foam earplugs is typically less than $2 a pair. If you buy them in bulk they can be as low as 50 cents a pair.
- Earmuffs: These are made with sound attenuating material and soft, comfortable ear cushions to be worn over the ears. It is essentially a large headset that goes over the ears to protect your hearing. Earmuffs are available in adult or pediatric versions and can be used for loud sound environments like concerts, power-tools and of course fireworks.
- Custom earplugs: If you have difficulty inserting standard earphones into your ears then you may want to consider custom earplugs. An audiologist can take impressions of your ears and order custom made earplugs specifically for you.
If you are the one setting off fireworks, or watching them from a nearby area, wearing either one of these three hearing protection options is recommended.
What to Do in the Event of Hearing Loss
A hearing test is recommended for anyone who believes their hearing has changed. If abnormalities have taken place, the doctor can assess whether the hearing loss is temporary or permanent.
Although celebrations can be exciting, it’s crucial to be aware that fireworks might damage your hearing. With the correct safety measures, you, your family, and friends can celebrate the Fourth of July without worrying about hearing loss.