If you live in Canada or the U.S., you’ll be celebrating in early July. But you’ll also be in preparation mode: Those burgers aren’t going to grill themselves, the chairs need to be set out early for this year’s parade, and the kids need their patriotic outfits. To help out, we’re going to make this easy yet essential to-do for you: Protect your family’s hearing this holiday.
What You Need to Know About Fireworks and Your Hearing
The amount of damage that fireworks cause to your hearing depends on:
- The distance you are from them
- The intensity of their explosion
- How old you are
The bangs and booms from fireworks can cause serious hearing damage, with sounds reaching 150 decibels (dB) at 3 feet.
For adults, the recommendation from the World Health Organization is not to be exposed to more than 140 decibels (dB) of peak sound pressure (like a firearm or a jet engine); children shouldn’t be exposed to more than 120 dB (like a jet plane takeoff or a siren). Because of their sensitivity to noise, children under 12 months should not be exposed to fireworks.
Long or repeated exposure to sounds at or above 85 dB (like a snowblower or a bulldozer) can cause hearing loss. The bigger the boom, the less time it takes for damage to happen. Exposure to loud sounds such as fireworks can lead to temporary or permanent hearing loss and tinnitus. These ailments can affect all ages.
- Keep Your Distance: The farther away you get from the fireworks explosions, the further you get from hurting your hearing. When dealing with fireworks of 170 dB, adults need to be 50 to 65 feet away (about 15 to 20 m; at least the length of a school bus). Kids need to be 165 to 200 feet away (about 50 to 60 m; around half of a soccer field) from the same fireworks.
- Soften the Sound: While at the store to grab things to grill, pick up some foam earplugs. This inexpensive hearing protection is portable, easy to use, and will make you pretty popular if you bring extras!
- Make a Statement: Declare your dedication to hearing health by sporting earmuffs — no, not the fuzzy ones. We’re talking about those heavy-duty guys that are great for not only fireworks but also monster-truck shows, arenas, and working with power tools. Look for soft, padded ear cups with a slim headband so the earmuffs will stay in place comfortably. Those soft ear cups will help air circulation over the ear to keep your head cool. You can even find foldable, easy-to-carry earmuffs, as well as ones in fun colors for the kids.