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

The summer season is here, and your agenda is most likely already filled with lots of parties and activities. Being outdoors partying on Independence Day is something lots of people do. Parades, marching bands, and live music are often part of the good times, and don’t forget fireworks! There is no cause to remain home and lose out on the fun, but take a minute to give consideration to how you might take care of your ears when you do go out to celebrate this holiday season.

Noise-induced hearing loss impacts around 6 percent of the U.S. adult populace below the age of 70; that equates to around 40 million people. The unfortunate part is this form of hearing damage is pretty much 100 percent avoidable. What’s needed is a little forethought and common sense. Think about some reasons you really should protect your ears as you have fun this season and the best ways of doing 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. With extensive exposure, any sound over 85 decibels can cause noise-related hearing damage. The average range of fireworks is 150 to 175 decibels. For short durations 140 decibels is the limit for adults and 120 decibels for children before hearing damage may happen. 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. 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. Children should be 70 yards away to protect their hearing and babies shouldn’t be there at all.

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

Crowd Noise is Easily Overlooked

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 quite possibly be higher and more consistent at a parade or celebration.

Mix Celebratory good times with a Little Common Sense

What type of protection should you use for your ears? It’s a lot more common sense than you might think. Start by assessing your hearing risk at the event:

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

You can make some practical choices based on what you expect from the celebration. If there is loud music or crowds, plan on wearing ear protection. If you still want to hear whats going on, but at a safe level, you should consider trying foam earplugs.

If there is a fireworks show, take the family back to a safe distance. 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. 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

Sound levels are not the only concern here. 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. Don’t go to the celebration too early if it’s going to be a late night. Always drink plenty of water and try to moderate your alcohol consumption. Getting out of the heat for short periods is essential. Where is the nearest shade? Can you get access to an air-conditioned building?

Celebrations come every year, but you only get one pair of ears. You can protect your ears and still have a great time. If you are worried that you may have already suffered hearing damage it is important to make an appointment with a hearing care specialist.