4th of JUly and hearing protection

As you gear up for your 4th of July celebrations, it’s crucial to be mindful of the potential harm to your hearing from the iconic sounds of the holiday fireworks and firecrackers. These fireworks produce explosive noises that exceed 150 decibels (dB), significantly louder than an average conversation at around 60 dB. Excessive exposure to sounds above 85 dB can lead to permanent hearing loss, making it essential to exercise caution.

Noise-induced hearing loss (NIHL) can occur from various sources, including fireworks. Even a single explosion lasting less than 1 second can cause permanent hearing loss. This kind of noise, impulse, or impact can come from fireworks. A noise level greater than 140 dBP will hurt a person’s hearing immediately, and fireworks at 3 feet can measure 150 dBP, considered painful to the ears and well beyond a safe listening level.

Exposure to loud sounds can result in the following:

  • Tinnitus” refers to ear ringing, a symptom of hearing loss.
  • Temporary threshold shift refers to a slight decrease in hearing that typically lasts 24 hours.
  • Permanent hearing loss is an irreversible change in hearing ability.

DB scale

Protect Your Ears

Many people may experience hearing damage from watching fireworks each year. For example, when we throw a stone into a lake and create ripples, sound also travels in waves. If you are closest to the firework, the sound will be loud and pose the highest risk of causing hearing loss.

4th of July Celebration

The further away you are, the less likely it is to occur. According to the World Health Organization, adults should not be exposed to anything louder than 140 decibels of peak sound pressure. For children, the limit is 120 decibels of peak sound pressure. For example, if a firework produces a sound at 170 decibels, a person must stand approximately 15-20 meters away to be safe.

4th of July Fireworks and Infants

For a child, that distance needs to be much more significant, around 50-60 meters away. When we think about children versus adults and how loud noise impacts them, it all comes down to anatomy. The ear canal’s diameter is smaller in children than in adults, and sound pressure is generated greater in a child’s ear canal than in an adult ear canal.

For infants, it’s not recommended to take them to any environment where the sound will be deafening, such as a fireworks display or a concert. That sound pressure is so much more significant and their ear canal is so much smaller. You can think about it as when you’re watering a garden or a tree, and you put your thumb over the end of the hose, you make the diameter smaller and the pressure more significant. For both big fireworks displays such as a baseball game or a Fourth of July festival and those that people set off from their driveways, hearing protection is recommended for both situations.

What Type of Hearing Protection is Recommended for Fireworks

Two main types of hearing protection are available: roll-down foam earplugs and over-the-ear headphones. These can be purchased at drugstores or sporting goods stores. Headphones are generally more comfortable and offer better protection. If you’re setting off fireworks at home or professionally, using earplugs and earmuffs for maximum security is strongly recommended, especially if setting off multiple fireworks. This is because being close to fireworks increases the risk of injury. With properly fitted hearing protection, you can reduce the risk of noise-induced hearing loss and still enjoy the Fourth of July celebrations.

4th of July Fireworks and hearing safty

Noise-induced Hearing Loss

Repeated exposure can lead to permanent hearing loss, especially as you age. It’s essential to protect your hearing now so you can continue to appreciate the sounds of fireworks for years. If you experience temporary hearing loss after attending a fireworks display, seeking help from a hearing care professional is essential. Contact Salem Audiology Clinic today and find out why we have over 50 5-star Google reviews for helping those on their hearing health journey.