I can already smell the hot dogs and barbeque cooking for all the 4th of July parties. I've even got my sparklers ready, and I'm looking forward to watching the fireworks…from a distance.
One of the most overlooked facets of July 4th are the damage that fireworks can cause to your hearing.
How do fireworks damage hearing?
The best way to answer that question is with another question.
Would you stand next to a jet engine when the plane is starting up?
I'm going to assume (and hope) you said no.
Jet engines can create sounds around 150 decibels. And guess what….so can standing within 3 feet of fireworks.
Attending fireworks shows is fun, a lot of fun. And I don't want you to miss out on any of that fun, but I do want you to enjoy it without permanently damaging your hearing.
4 ways to prepare your ears (and your child's) for the 4th
- Wear ear plugs. We like these, by Etymotic. Even if it's too late to get them for the 4th, grab them for future events to have on hand.
- Children and babies are vulnerable. This may be kind of obvious, but one thing to note is hearing loss is cumulative, meaning it will add up over time as you damage more hair cells. We recommend Peltor Earmuffs for your children if they are going to be exposed to continuous noise from fireworks. You can get them here.
- Keep a safe distance. The farther away you are from loud sounds, the better.
- Use an app. It's true what they say, there's an app for everything. If you're unsure how loud it is where you are try out an app that measures sound in decibels. According to ASHA, prolonged exposure to sounds over 85 decibels can cause hearing loss. Use this app to measure the sound levels in your environment.
- Cover your ears and move away. If for any reason you get in a situation with loud sounds by accident, just cover your ears and move away from the sound. This won't be as good as steps 1 and 3 above, but it will be better than nothing.
3 common symptoms of hearing damage
Just in case you are exposed to intense noise levels, you may experience one of the following symptoms.
If you experience any of the above systems lasting for longer than 48 hours following the noise exposure see a hearing healthcare professional for evaluation.
In the meantime, it is important to protect your ears from loud sounds to prevent permanent damage.
Have fun, stay safe, and Happy 4th of July!