What’s not to like about the 4th of July! Patriotism, parades, picnics, pool parties and fabulous fireworks displays. Here at Hearing Aid Specialists of the Central Coast we want you to enjoy your 4th of July, but don’t let celebrating get in the way of protecting your hearing. The 4th of July is the noisiest holiday of all! And the noise of fireworks is louder than gunfire or the loudest rock concert you’ve ever attended. The American Speech Language Hearing Association puts out a word of caution before each 4th of July to not let the urge to celebrate get in the way of preserving your hearing health.
Here are some tips to help you enjoy the 4th of July revelries and protect your hearing!
First, the noise facts
Noise from exploding fireworks can go as high as 155 decibels. Ranking that with other sounds, a jackhammer is 130 decibels, a jet plane on take off is 120 and a chainsaw is 100 decibels. Long or repeated short exposure to sounds at 85 decibels or above, for example snowblowers or bulldozers, can cause hearing loss. Although hearing loss is often thought to be progressive over time it can also be the result of loud, sharp, instantaneous noise. The newer fireworks that are called “sonic” can have a decibel level of over 180 and when they are used as part of a ground Even one big boom can cause instantaneous hearing loss and damage.
Keep your distance
Fireworks are aerial feats of genius. You don’t need to be on top of them – and the noise to enjoy them. The closer you are to the noise, the more you put yourself at risk for immediate, sudden and permanent hearing loss. Keep at least 50 to 65 feet away from fireworks, firecrackers, speaker systems broadcasting the fireworks noise and other sources of loud sound. So as a distance gauge, that would be about the length of a city bus away.
Keep the kids farther away. The auditory systems of children and teen are not fully developed so they are susceptible to damage from loud noise. Kids should be 165 to 200 feet away or about half the length of a football field.
Don’t take children younger than a year old to the fireworks. You’ve seen those children at fireworks displays clapping their hands over their ears every time there’s a loud boom? Well, the noise is bothering them. Crying babies and children at fireworks celebrations aren’t bothered by the bright lights, they are irritated and perhaps suffering auditory damage, because of the noise.
Break out the ear plugs
You can enjoy yourself “watching” the fireworks without hearing the loud blasts. Wearing ear plugs, ear muffs or noise cancelling headphone means the only thing you are missing is auditory damage.
When you are shopping for holiday supplies, pick up some ear plugs. Here’s a pro tip – roll them in your fingers before inserting and they will adhere more snuggly in the ear canal. The sound won’t be totally blocked, just deadened enough that you aren’t being damaged by it. You still get the flashes of light and feel the noise – but unfortunately, they do not prevent mosquito bites!
For younger children and, for adults who are bothered by the noise even at a distance, bring out the ear muffs. No, not the furry winter weather ear muffs, the kind you see construction workers or employees at the racetrack wearing. And, that’s a good analogy to use with the kids, hey, if the racing crew is wearing them – then you can too!
They have soft, padded ear cuffs and slim head bands so they aren’t clunky. The ear cuffs are constructed to make sure air still circulates around the ears, so they are not uncomfortable at all. There are foldable models available, so they don’t take up a lot of room if you are packing a couple for the kids. They also come in fashionably colors.
Be aware of your limits.
Noise that is too loud, too long or too close is too much. If you notice a ringing or buzzing in your ears, move away from noise source.
Get professional help
There’s no reason to live with untreated hearing loss. If you believe your hearing abilities are changing, schedule a hearing evaluation with us at Hearing Aid Specialists of the Central Coast. Hearing damage and loss from loud noise affects all ages.