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Love Fireworks? Invest in Earplugs

Fourth of July means fireworks! I don't want to rain on your parade (since the Fourth is often celebrated with parades, too), but the loud pops and bangs of fireworks can cause serious hearing damage.

When the delicate structures in your ear called hair cells — sensory cells located in your inner ears responsible for converting sound energy into electrical signals — are damaged, they never regenerate and cannot 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 cause 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 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 compare


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 ears safety, watching a public display from afar is your best bet. If you're serious about preventing ear damage, pick up some foam or silicone ear plugs. They sell them at most drug stores for less than $5. I know they're not exactly the most fashionable thing to sport, but I'd rather wear these for 20 minutes than lose my sense of hearing forever.


Join The Conversation
ElectroPopTart ElectroPopTart 8 years
I go to Disneyland every friday evening, so when the fireworks go off, I just cover my ears the entire time. =)
Advah Advah 8 years
Advah's flatmate - 112 dB I got used to bringing earplugs/cotton to the cinema and concerts, it makes such a difference to not get suddenly all tensed up when a character screams on the screen, or when the cymbals make me half deaf!
hkmarks hkmarks 8 years
I used to always go see the Canada Day fireworks. But having lived in the capital for 21 years... meh. There was a really sweet spot to watch them by the Rideau locks. Me and some friends went there and had a great view the first year it was open. Unfortunately the next year a bunch of people were smoking pot. Stanky!
Spectra Spectra 8 years
I don't know if I'll be seeing fireworks this year. Seems like they're the same every year. I'd rather light the quieter ones off in my the little snakes or the bottle rockets, stuff like that.
beingtazim beingtazim 8 years
i think fireworks are boring. what is so special or unique about them?
animatedpunk animatedpunk 8 years
yeah, i went to 1 too many concerts in highschool and now i have terrible hearing. I thought my dad was weird when he told me to wear earplugs. Now I know. Haha.
italianblonde italianblonde 8 years
I'd totally go deaf for fireworks..they're my favorite!!! :)
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