Fireworks are fun but the can also cause hearing loss.
As the 4th of July approaches, plans for fireworks and festivities abound. Even though a huge part of the fun of fireworks is their explosion and the sound it makes, it is incredibly important to take safety precautions when setting them off. Fireworks, as well as other loud noises, can be extremely dangerous to one’s hearing. If not carefully enjoyed, fireworks can cause hearing loss that will last a lifetime. The good news is that with two simple considerations, you can prevent hearing loss this 4th of July.
The closer you are to the fireworks display, the louder it is going to be. While it is fun to where the action is, it is also important to remain a safe distance from fireworks to minimize the sound and potential for damage to hearing. According to the World Health Organization, a safe distance from fireworks for an adult is approximately 30 to 45 feet. Be careful though because the safe distance for children is much higher; children need to be at least 150-180 feet away to minimize the possibility of hearing damage due to fireworks. To put that into perspective, 94 feet is the length of an NBA-size basketball court.
Wear Ear Protection
Explosive sounds, like firecrackers, are even more hazardous to your hearing than other loud noises. When igniting fireworks, it is incredibly important to wear ear protection. A variety of ear protection options exist, from cheap foam earplugs available at the gas station to midrange and high-end noise-canceling headphones. Headphones on their own are generally not recommended unless they cover the ears in their entirety. If noise-canceling functionality is not available, it is recommended to use a foam earplug, in addition to the headset. Oh – and we forgot to mention using one’s noise-canceling Airpods works great too!
Resources for Hearing Loss
If you need help due to a hearing loss incident with fireworks or are simply experiencing hearing loss in general, there are places that can help. A simple Google search can locate a local audiologist who can provide a hearing test to quantify how much hearing loss is present and what to do next. In many cities, there are chapters of the Hearing Loss Association of America (https://www.hearingloss.org), which can connect people with hearing loss to local resources, as well as provide a wealth of information and support for people experiencing hearing loss.
Don’t let accidental over-exposure to fireworks on the 4th of July affect you or your child’s ability to hear normally for the rest of their life. Have fun, but be safe!