Protecting Your Hearing This Fourth of July
People all over America come together for the Fourth of July to enjoy barbecues, time with friends and family and, of course, fireworks. We are all aware of the inherent fire danger associated with fireworks, but what about the more hidden danger – hearing loss?
As you begin your Fourth of July celebration this year, keep your ears safe from fireworks, firecrackers, and other explosives.
Due to their frequent use and loudness, firecrackers can easily cause hearing loss. Loudness of sound is measured in decibels (dB). Firecrackers start at 125 dB. Aside from the safety issues of throwing a small flaming device at another person, the intensity of sound poses real health risks as well.
The Occupational Safety and Health Association defines dangerous noise levels as 8 hours of continuous exposure at 90 dB or greater. The louder the noise, the shorter the duration of exposure that causes damage. The chart below references loudness levels of common noises and the duration of time it takes for the noise to cause hearing damage.
Fireworks are the pinnacle of any Fourth of July celebration. Whether you partake in professional demonstrations or are a do-it-yourself pyrotechnic, protecting your hearing around fireworks is vital. At a distance of three feet, fireworks can be as loud as 150 dB. In order to protect your hearing, it is best to be seated 15-20 meters away for adults and 50-60 meters away for children. When doing your own fireworks, using hearing protection is vital.
Hearing protection can be in the form of foam earplugs, earmuffs or custom fit earplugs. Regardless of the type you choose to utilize, proper use is imperative. If you do not properly insert earplugs, the amount of protection is substantially reduced and you remain at risk for noise induced hearing loss.
Signs that you were exposed to excessive noise include ringing in the ears (tinnitus), pain and difficulty hearing normal conversation. Sometimes these effects are temporary, but they can be permanent depending upon the exposure.