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

Now that the weather is warm you most likely have your agenda filled with parties and other plans. It’s almost Independence Day and nearly everyone you know will be outside celebrating. Parades, marching bands, and live music are frequently part of the fun, and don’t forget fireworks! There is no cause to remain at home and miss out on the good times, but take a second to think about how you will take care of your ears when you do go out to celebrate this summer.

Noise-induced hearing loss affects about 6 percent of the U.S. adult populace less than the age of 70; that equates to around 40 million people. It’s sad that this type of hearing damage is nearly 100 percent avoidable. All you need is a little forethought and common sense. Take into consideration some examples of why you need to take care of your ears as you celebrate this summer and how to do it.

FireWorks are the Loudest of all.

At the top of the list of potential dangers associated with fireworks, hearing damage is at the top. 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. After all, any sound over 85 decibels is capable of causing noise-related damage with extensive exposure. 150 to 175 decibels is the typical range of fireworks. For short durations 140 decibels is the limit for adults and 120 decibels for children before hearing damage may happen. Fireworks are usually louder than both those numbers.

The positive spin? Your chance of hearing loss is reduced the further you are away from the explosion. For example, if you’re sitting in the stands at a field where they are shooting off the fireworks, you’re at greater risk than someone watching it from their porch. 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.

You Really Love Live Music

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.

Any person exposed to loud music faces the same possible consequence, but time is a factor when it comes to live music. Live shows are usually louder than 100 decibels which becomes dangerous after only 15 minutes. Almost all concerts are longer than that!

The Crowd Noise Maybe Louder Than You Would Think

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 probably be higher and more consistent at a parade or celebration.

Mix Celebratory Fun with a Little Common Sense

What can you do to protect your ears? You may not realize that it’s actually common sense. Assess the hearing risk of the event beforehand:

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

What precautions you take depends on how loud you think the celebration will be. If there is loud music or crowds, plan on wearing ear protection. With something simple like foam earplugs, you can still hear what’s going on, but at a much safer level.

The family should be kept at a safe distance during a fireworks show. You don’t have to be dangerously close to enjoy fireworks. 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.

The Sumer Season has Other Risks Besides Hearing Damage

Noise is only one of several concerns. Celebrations bring with them hot sun, too much drink, too little water and fatigue. 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. Finally, figure out where you can go to take the occasional break from the heat. 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. Enjoy the holiday but be sure to take care of 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.