July is a time of year filled with vacation, relaxation, and summer fun. With on July 4th comes the celebration of the birth of our country. This day often includes picnics and games along with the traditional evening fireworks. Fireworks are beautiful, but they are also very loud and become louder the closer one is to the source. Unfortunately, there are many people each year who experience hearing damage due to exposure to fireworks.
Fireworks can have a peak sound of 150 to 175 decibels (dB). The World Health Organization (WHO) recommends that adults never be exposed to more than 140 dB, and the standard for children is 120 dB for one exposure. In order to meet this standard, an adult would need to stand at least 60 feet away from the firework – nearly 200 feet away for a child. Although this is the standard from WHO, sounds as low as 120 dB have been known to cause immediate and permanent hearing loss in some individuals. Because of this, it is very important to educate the community on the importance of hearing protection and avoiding the loud sounds of fireworks and firecrackers during the holiday.
Use of hearing protection is extremely important to prevent hearing loss in these loud noise conditions. Several options are available including earmuffs, over-the-counter earplugs, and custom earplugs. Earmuffs fit over the ear and can be quick to put on, but they must fit securely around the ear with no gaps, or the protection is lost. They are also more cumbersome to wear and carry, particularly for an event like fireworks. Foam earplugs offer the best rating for hearing protection, but must be worn correctly to provide this. Many people do not know how to insert them fully or simply can’t because of their small ear canal size. This means that there are many who believe they are getting adequate hearing protection but are actually risking their hearing due to poor fit.
Custom earplugs offer the advantage of consistent fit which ensures maximal hearing protection every time. At Oro Valley Audiology, we work with patients to obtain custom earplugs. After having them made, patients return to us to ensure good fit. We also provide education on proper insertion and use. This ensures that patients are able to protect their hearing consistently. Plus, since custom earplugs are small, they can easily fit into a purse or a pocket to take along to events like fireworks at a moment’s notice.
If you know anyone who has noisy hobbies/jobs or who will be exposed to loud noises recreationally, please feel free to refer them to our office where we can help them move forward with proper hearing protection and give them the power to preserve their hearing while being able to enjoy life to the fullest.