The Fourth of July is next week, and that means barbecues with family and friends and a night full of fireworks. While many community events across the state of Texas have been cancelled this year, that does not mean the sky will be any less bright. With the increase in at-home firework displays, experts warn users about the danger of hearing loss.
How Fireworks Can Harm Your Hearing
According to Dr. Leigh Ann Reel, an associate professor of audiology at the Texas Tech Health Sciences Center, exposure to fireworks can lead to permanent damage that may not be outwardly obvious.
She explains, “In extreme cases, you can have sudden, permanent, very noticeable hearing loss from exposure to one single sound, especially gun shots and even fireworks at close range. Fireworks can reach levels of 140 to 160 decibels. That is louder than a jet engine, high enough to have immediate damage.”
Dr. Reel tells the story of a patient who was holding a firework in one hand. When it went off, the patient was left with severe and instantaneous hearing loss. She explains, “Other than low pitch sounds, everything else was gone just from that one instance with the fireworks. So, whether you’re the one holding it or it goes off in close range, there’s certainly a possibility of having that kind of immediate severe to profound hearing loss.”
How to Protect Yourself
Follow the tips below in order to keep your hearing safe this Fourth of July.
- Stay at least 500 feet away from any firework display. The further you are, the less harmful the sounds is to the delicate hair cells within your inner ear.
- Leave the fireworks to the professionals.
- Wear earplugs and earmuffs. Foam earplugs from your local pharmacy work fine for adults while over-ear earmuffs are best for small children.
If you insist on setting off your own fireworks, you should at least pay attention to their decibel rating. Fountains, wheels, falling leaves and comets crackle and whistle instead of creating a loud, explosive boom. Avoid rockets, mines and any firework that has a number of blasts strung together, as they are designed to create as much noise as possible.
To learn more about protecting your hearing or to schedule a hearing test, contact the experts at Total Hearing Care of Dallas today.