With the pandemic in 2020 and 2021 causing concerns about crowds gathering and the spread of the respiratory virus, many Fourth of July celebrations were canceled or individuals stayed away in 2020 and 2021. But this year, with transmission rates low and the desire to return to pre-pandemic fun high, many people will be joining the celebrations again.
That means if there are fireworks involved, you need to protect your hearing, whether you’re at a family picnic or a community event.
Though it seems like common sense, it bears repeating that the louder a sound is, the more critical it is to protect your hearing. Most fireworks are classified as louder than 140 decibels. That puts them in the same category as a gunshot, and they not only can make your ears ring, but if exposed to them up close or for extended periods of time, they can permanently damage your hearing.
So, in the interest of safety and because hearing loss is permanent, we recommend wearing hearing protection whenever closely around fireworks. In many cases, simple over-the-counter earplugs or earmuffs that can be purchased at drugstores, hardware stores, or sports stores may prevent damage to your hearing. The American Speech-Language-Hearing Association recommends the following to prevent hearing loss when attending fireworks displays or setting fireworks off yourself:
- Place earplugs into the ear canal so that they totally block the canal. Earplugs come in different shapes and sizes, and can also be custom made by taking an impression of the ear. Earplugs can reduce noise by 15 to 30 decibels (dB) depending on how they are made and fit.
- Use earmuffs that fit completely over both ears. They must fit tightly so that sound is blocked from entering the ears. Like earplugs, earmuffs can reduce noise 15 to 30 dB depending on how they are made and fit.
- Use earplugs and earmuffs together to achieve even greater sound reduction. Use of both is recommended when noise exposure is particularly high.
- Consider custom earplugs if you are frequently exposed to loud noises. If you are an avid hunter or a musician, be sure to talk with your audiologist about how these hearing protection devices can help.
- If you don’t have hearing protection, move away from the loud sound and give your ears a break.
Associated Audiologists specializes in preventing hearing loss. Schedule an appointment to discuss hearing loss prevention with a doctoral-level audiologist and ask if custom earplugs may be right for you.