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Every year Americans celebrate the 4th of July with great pomp and ceremony. This comes in the form of sweet popsicles, patriotic tunes, and booming fireworks. While its always fun to participate and be part of the celebration, take the proper steps to protect your hearing–especially around those fireworks!

Hearing safety and fireworks: Wear ear protection

You may think earplugs are just for use on a crowded flight or when you’re trying to fall asleep at night next to a snorer. However, earplugs can and should be used in many more situations. This 4th of July, consider wearing a pair of earplugs or noise cancelling headphones whether you are mowing your lawn to prepare for an outdoor party, enjoying a celebratory live concert, or witnessing a brilliant fireworks display.

Did you know that earplugs often list the number of sound decibels they can cancel out? Cooper Safety Supply lists the Noise Reduction Ratings of different earplugs and earmuffs, allowing you to know just how much sound can reach your ears when wearing a pair. Any type of blockage is beneficial considering that fireworks can reach 150 decibels, according to the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association. Prolonged exposure to these sounds can lead to permanent hearing damage, so protection and prevention are key!

Hearing safety: Lower the music

Unlike at a fireworks show, you can control the volume at a party at your own home. Instead of turning up the music and forcing others’ voices to compete to be heard, try lowering the volume of any music.

If you consider that your refrigerator runs at 50 decibels, your lawn mower runs between 60 and 90 decibels, and a car beeps outside at 110 decibels, you’ll realize how many noises your ear takes in every day without you noticing. At your 4th of July party this year, give your ears a break and turn down the volume, despite how much someone asks you to crank the Springsteen up.

Keep your distance

Once of the easiest ways to separate yourself from the loud sounds of the 4th of July is to physically add space between yourself and the multiple sounds. You don’t need to be right next to the launching site in order to enjoy fireworks, so park your car farther away and look up to the sky. Step back from speakers blaring patriotic music – the lyrics are just as meaningful from a distance. If you want to take your hearing protection up to the next level, think about staying home to watch on TV. The celebration can be just as fun there!

Check for damage

On the 5th of July, take stock of your hearing. Are your ears ringing? Do things sound a little muffled? Are you having a harder time hearing during a conversation? These could be signs of mild to severe hearing loss or even tinnitus. Consult an online hearing test or your audiologist to determine if the issue if severe enough to warrant hearing aids. Even if the damage is done, you can prevent further issues.

Keep your ears happy and enjoy your 4th of July!

By: Diana Michel

Sources: Cooper Safety Supply, ASHA