Skip Nav

Fireworks and Your Delicate Ears

I'm ready to celebrate the Fourth of July, but must admit I am not a fan of the noise that accompanies fireworks — lovely as they may be. Those booming sounds can really damage the delicate structures in your ears; once they're damaged, they never regenerate and can't be repaired. This condition is known as noise-induced hearing loss (NIHL). The loss is permanent and may cause impaired hearing or total loss of hearing down the road.

NIHL can be caused by one exposure to a loud noise such as an explosion, or by regular exposure over an extended period of time. If you continuously experience sounds over 85 decibels (dB) then a hearing aid may be in your future. Check out how some common sounds compare:

Rustling leaves: 10 dB
A whisper: 20 dB
Humming of a fridge: 40 dB
A conversation: 60 dB
Busy street traffic: 70 dB
Vacuum cleaner: 80 dB
Lawn mower: 90 dB
A large orchestra: 98 dB

To see how fireworks measure up read more.

Fireworks for spectators 800 feet away: 88 to 126 dB
Fireworks for spectators 10 feet away: 155 dB
Front row of a rock concert: 110 dB
Military jet takeoff: 140 dB
Motorcycles, firecrackers, small firearms: 120 to 150 dB

So when it comes to ear safety, it's best to enjoy a fireworks display from far away. If you're serious about preventing ear damage, pick up some foam or silicone earplugs. They sell them at most drug stores for less than $5. I know they're not exactly the most fashionable things to sport, but I'd rather wear these for 20 minutes than hearing aids for the rest of my life.

Latest Fitness

Download our Halloween app!

Go to App Store
+