With Independence Day celebrations kicking off tonight, remember to take steps to protect you and your family’s hearing from the damaging effects of fireworks.
Did you know that the single bang of a firecracker at close range can permanently damage your hearing? A firework launched ten feet away from you can result in exposure to 155 decibels of noise – that’s louder than a military jet taking off. To put this in perspective, sounds that are louder than 85 decibels can cause permanent hearing loss. When noise is too loud, it begins to kill the hair cells and nerve endings in the inner ear. So, the longer (and closer) you’re exposed to loud noise, the more likely you are to permanently damage your hearing.
According to the Better Hearing Institute (BHI), 19 million Americans have already suffered irreversible hearing damage as a result of noise, and 30 million are exposed to dangerous noise levels each day.
The BHI advises you to leave the fireworks to the professionals and sit at least 500 feet from where the fireworks are launched. Fireworks noise for those 800 feet away ranges from 88 to 126 decibels, still loud enough to result in permanent hearing loss.
Remember to pack a pair of disposable ear plugs (made of foam or silicone) for each member of the family and make sure they are worn correctly. A good test is to say the words “boom” and “beat” while wearing the earplugs. If “boom” sounds louder to you than “beat” in either ear, the earplug needs to be pushed farther in.
Finally, stay aware of the warning signs and move further away if you note any of the following:
- You have to shout over the noise to be heard by someone within arm’s length
- You have pain in your ears
- You hear ringing or buzzing (tinnitus) in your ears
- You suddenly have difficulty understanding speech; you can hear people talking but can’t understand them
We hope you have a happy and safe 4th of July!