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

The summer season is here, and your agenda is quite possibly already filled with all kinds of parties and activities. Being outdoors celebrating on Independence Day is something a lot of people do. Parades, marching bands, and live music are usually part of the good times, and don’t forget fireworks! There is no reason you have to stay in your house and lose out on the fun, but take a second to think of how you should protect your ears when you do go out to celebrate this summer.

Noise-induced hearing loss affects about 6 percent of the U.S. adult population under the age of 70; that equates to around 40 million people. The unfortunate part is this kind of hearing damage is just about 100 percent preventable. All you need is a little forethought and common sense. Consider some examples of why you really should protect your hearing as you have fun this summer and how to do it.

FireWorks are the Most Noisy of all.

With all the potential dangers that come with fireworks, hearing damage tops the list. 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. Noise-related hearing loss can begin at 85 decibels with repeated exposure. 150 to 175 decibels is the typical range of fireworks. Even though adults may tolerate 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. Both those numbers are lower than fireworks.

The positive spin? The further away you are away from the explosion, the lower your risk of hearing damage. 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.

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.

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. Most of the time a live concert is much longer than that.

And Lets not Forget About the Crowds

The most underestimated danger for hearing damage is crowd noise. 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 most likely be higher and more consistent at a celebration or parade.

Use Common Sense When Celebrating

What can you do to protect your ears? 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?

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. 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. Fireworks can easily be enjoyed from a safe distance. Watch from a couple of blocks away, at least, to be safe. There will be fewer people back there, too, so you’ll be able to enjoy the show more comfortably.

What About the Non-Sound Risks at Celebrations?

There is more to talk about here than just sound. Celebrations bring with them hot sun, too much drink, too little water and fatigue. If you already have some hearing loss or if you suffer from tinnitus, these things will get worse.

Try to take it easy. If the celebration is going to last all day and into the night, maybe start later. Always drink plenty of water and try to moderate your alcohol consumption. Getting out of the heat for short periods is essential. Can you find some shade? Are you anywhere near a public building with air conditioning?

Celebrations come every year, but you only get one pair of ears. 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 make an appointment with a hearing care specialist.

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