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Fireworks and Ear Safety

Enjoy Fireworks — Save Your Ears

Fourth of July is right around the corner, and that means fireworks! Like a kid, I look forward to the colorful starbursts streaming across the sky. I do, however, hate to rain on your Independence Day parade: as spectacular as they are, the booming sounds that accompany the sparkling visuals can really damage your ears. Noise-induced hearing loss is as real as your mama's cherry pie. Once damaged, the sensitive hair cells of the inner ear never regenerate and can't be repaired, creating permanent hearing loss.

For a point of reference, here are some common Summer sounds and their decibel (dB) levels:

Rustling leaves: 10 dB
A whisper: 20 dB
Humming of a fridge: 40 dB
A conversation: 60 dB
Busy street traffic: 80 dB
Vacuum cleaner: 80 dB
Noisy office: 90 dB
Lawn mower: 90 dB
Motorcycle: 95 dB
Amplified music: 110 dB
Chainsaw or rock concert: 110 dB
Ambulance siren: 120 dB
Fireworks: 145 dB

No more than 15 minutes of unprotected exposure to 115 decibels is recommended. Long-term exposure to 80 to 85 decibels or more can cause hearing loss, and is one of the main reasons older folks sport hearing aids these days. To prevent ear damage, enjoy the fireworks show from afar and use a pair of inexpensive foam ear plugs. They might not be the most fashionable accessory of the season, but I'd rather wear them for 20 minutes than hearing aids for the rest of my life.

Flickr User Amani Hasan

Image Source: Thinkstock
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fuzzles fuzzles 5 years
My cat snoring: 195 dB
Spectra Spectra 6 years
We always take earplugs to the fireworks. My husband gets them for free at work, so we put them in and they really help. My dog gets the short end of the stick, though...they REALLY freak her out, so we have to be careful so she doesn't get too scared from the noise.
meganekko meganekko 9 years
the main reason i hate fireworks is the noise =/
cravinsugar cravinsugar 9 years
haha, don't tell me dad this. one-he is already having hearing loss from his job, 2-he not only has firecrackers to explode, but also his own mortars just like the ones in big fireworks shows!
CestLaVie CestLaVie 9 years
I have damage from a concert I went to about 2 years ago and was seated by the speakers, I have seen my ENT and he ran a bunch of tests, still wants to run more but basically, my ears started ringing and never stopped. Now I know how important and delicate your ears/ hearing is and I take earplugs in my purse whereever I go, never know when you'll end up somewhere loud and I don't care how "dorky" my friends say I look at a bar with a band playing, my ears are worth it.
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