Firework shows are truly breathtaking, but can be dangerous if not conducted appropriately. States and counties regulate what fireworks can and can’t be used in certain areas in order to protect people and properties, but many don’t take seriously the danger fireworks pose to hearing.
The Consequences of Unsafe Firework Use
According to Leigh Ann Reel, Ph.D., a common firework injury is permanent hearing damage. “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,” she said.
Dr. Reel describes one patient she had who was holding a firework in one hand when it was set off. The blast left immediate, severe hearing loss. “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.”
It’s not just adults handling fireworks who need to be careful, either. According to Jackie Clark, President of the American Academy of Audiology, “Children are at particular risk for hearing loss from backyard fireworks displays, because of their excitement and curiosity and wishing to be close to the activity.”
How to Stay Safe
Fortunately, you can still enjoy the show while keeping your ears safe. Follow our tips below:
Skip the Home Display
Experts recommend attending community displays rather than purchasing your own fireworks to set off at home. While social distancing guidelines have caused a lot of annual events to close, you can ask your relatives and neighbors if they plan to have a show.
Keep a Safe Distance
If possible, watch the fireworks about 500 feet from where they’re being set off. The further you are from a sound source, the less harm it has on your ears.
Wear Ear Protection
If you are unable to keep a safe distance, it is essential to wear hearing protection. Foam earplugs can be purchased inexpensively at the drug store. Children should wear earmuffs, which fit better and don’t pose a choking hazard.
For more information about keeping your hearing safe or to schedule a hearing test, call the experts at Tinnitus & Hearing Experts today.