While most of you may spend Independence Day watching your fellow Americans consume hot dogs at a rate that would most certainly frighten our forefathers, you should try to take extra care to keep your ears safe from this not-so-silent Fourth of July tradition: fireworks.

Dangerous Decibels: Preserve and Protect Your Hearing

Fireworks produce a sound output that is in the 150 to 175 decibel range. Each Fourth of July, celebrating patriots may experience some level of damage to their hearing as a result of these red, white and blue explosions in the sky.

Why are fireworks so loud in the first place? It all comes down to the explosive chemical reaction that happens after the fuse is lit. The burning gunpowder releases hot gas that expands rapidly; when the gas expands to the point that it runs out of room within the firework, the resulting explosion causes a blast wave. The vibrations from that blast wave have the potential to cause permanent damage to the delicate hair cells of the inner ear.

According to the National Institutes of Health, more than 30 million people in the U.S. are at risk of noise-induced hearing loss. Exposure to noises such as loud fireworks can result in:

  • Tinnitus, or hearing sensations of sounds such as ringing, hissing, buzzing, clicking or roaring without any external stimulus.
  • Slight, temporary hearing loss (less than 24 hours)
  • Permanent hearing loss
  • Eardrum perforation, which is rare[1]

Whether you’re shooting Roman candles from your driveway or watching fireworks as America’s Orchestra plays on in the background, it’s important to take precautions to protect your ears. Not to mention the direction of the stars shooting from your hand-held cannon, er, candle.

Watch Fireworks From A Safe Distance Away.

According to the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association, fireworks and firecrackers heard at a distance of three feet can reach up to 150 decibels, a threshold the organization deems “not safe for any period of time.”

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Even if you need to sit on someone’s shoulders to see the sky light up, your ears see (well, hear) all. Keep reading for suggestions on how to preserve your ears during the Pops, even if you’re miles from Beantown.[2]

Cover Your Ears During the Show

One way to keep your ‘drums safe from the pyrotechnics on display is to cancel out the Star-Spangled boom. Foam earplugs can easily be found at your local pharmacy and worn during the show. It is important to “clean and replace your earplugs as needed in order to avoid impacted ear wax,” as “frequent or prolonged usage of earplugs may affect the ear’s ability to drain properly.”[3]

Over-the-ear muffs, like those seen in on industrial or construction sites, help to block or cancel noise caused by the blast and crackle associated with fireworks. Whether you’re an amateur or professional pyromaniac, if you’re near the firework launch site earplugs and earmuffs can be worn together for maximum protection.

Hear are additional recommendations from the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association (ASHA) to serve “as a helpful reminder to the public of the importance of protecting one’s hearing from loud noises during holiday celebrations.”[4]

Preserve and Protect Your Hearing at July the Forth Fireworks

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Whether you’re watching the fireworks from the comfort of your couch, or as part of a patriotic crowd, it’s paramount to declare your ears’ independence from auditory damage. Call our team of audiologists and licensed hearing health professionals at 1-800-734-7603 to learn tips and tricks to protect your hearing health well past the Fourth of July.

Sources

[1] https://www.nih.gov/
[2] https://www.asha.org/public/hearing/Loud-Noise-Dangers/
[3] https://www.livestrong.com/article/263656-dangers-of-wearing-ear-plugs/
[4] http://www.hearingreview.com/2015/06/asha-releases-infographic-of-safe-hearing-tips-for-july-4th/#sthash.TWonBFdD.dpuf

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