Nothing screams summer like sunshine, barbecues, swimming pools, and the 4th of July. As fun as Independence Day is, the holiday poses danger to residents of Los Angeles and throughout the country, whose hearing can be damaged during the festivities. Taking steps to protect your hearing will ensure your holiday celebration is safe and enjoyable and will help you remain “independent” of hearing aids for a long time to come!
Noise-Induced Hearing Loss
Exposure to any loud sound exceeding 85 decibels can cause irreversible damage to your hearing. The louder the sound, the less safe exposure time you have; typical Los Angeles traffic clocks in at about 85 dB, giving you roughly eight hours before you should worry about hearing loss (good news, given the area freeways’ notorious bumper-to-bumper delays), while hearing impairment can occur instantly at 140 dB – roughly the level of a rock ‘n roll concert.
4th of July Hearing Dangers
By far the biggest danger posed by Independence Day celebrations is the noise from fireworks. They may be awe-inspiring to look at, but typical noise levels range between 150-175 dB, well beyond the safety threshold. The easiest way to protect your hearing is to leave the fireworks to the experts! The further away from the action, the better; experts recommend watching displays from a minimum distance of 30 yards. If you harbor pyrotechnical tendencies and insist on lighting them yourself, be sure to wear adequate hearing protection. Custom earplugs made from molds of your ears are the safest bet. And don’t forget to protect your children’s ears, as well; permanent hearing damage can occur in younger individuals at even lower decibel levels.
Fireworks aren’t the only potential danger lurking out there on the 4th of July. Music from parades, marching bands, and live concerts can all exceed safe decibel levels. Like we’ve already mentioned, be sure to wear hearing protection when enjoying these events.
Not every danger has to do with noise. Many people beat the July heat by taking a dip in a lake or stream. As refreshing as the cool water might feel, doing so puts you at risk of swimmer’s ear, a painful infection caused by bacteria in water. Left untreated, this can lead to hearing loss. Avoid swimming in bodies of water where bacterial counts are high (warning signs are typically posted). Invest in a pair of swimmer’s plugs to keep water from entering your ear canals and be sure to dry your ears thoroughly afterwards.
Just because Independence Day poses dangers to your hearing doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy the holiday! Contact your Los Angeles audiologist today for more tips on protecting your hearing this summer.