Protecting Yourself From The Sounds Of Summer

Sunshine, popsicles, picnics, watermelons, beaches, barbeques – oh the wonderful signs of summer! But did you know that there are summer activities that are dangerous to your hearing? I’m not talking about the drone of the mosquito that keeps you awake all night long, or the sound of thunder that startles and shakes the house. I’m talking about noisy pastimes that also signal summer. Here is a list to keep your hearing intact while having fun in the sun.

1. Outdoor concerts
Bring the hearing protection, and stay away from the speakers. When a concert is outside, bands tend to turn up the music louder than when indoors. 85 dB is the recommended limit, and some concerts have been found to be in excess of 100 dB.

2. Motorcycles and speedboats
Not only do your ears have to cope with engine noise, they also have to put up with wind. “Riding a motorcycle at 65 miles/hour can produce wind noise in excess of 103 dB. If the level of sound increases to 115 dB, 15 minutes of exposure can result in permanent hearing damage”

3. Convertibles
Driving a convertible can carry the same risks as mentioned above. However, it is not always easy or legal to wear hearing protection while driving a car. Some companies have developed hearing protection specifically for convertibles by taking out the high frequency noise of the wind while still allowing you to hear traffic. If you cannot find any suitable hearing protection, try driving with your windows up to help reduce some of the noise.

4. Target shooting
If you enjoy target shooting outdoors, summer is the time to do it. Unfortunately, a firearm can create noise that is above 140 dB. If we refer back to our recommended limit of 85 dB, then our ears are taking quite a beating with each blast. Damage to our hearing can occur with only one shot. Always wear earplugs and put muffs over top for safety.

5. Fireworks displays
Once again, the sound of these explosive displays can be close to 125 dB. Pop those earplugs in, and relax knowing your hearing is safe. Remember to protect your child’s hearing too, and that babies and toddlers’ ears should not be exposed to these levels at all. So if you do bring your little ones to the fireworks, look for hearing protection specifically designed for them.

6. Sporting events
Sporting events are exciting, but also loud. Guinness World Records found that the loudest crowd at a sports stadium happened at the Arrowhead Stadium in Kansas City, Missouri, USE on September 29, 2014. The volume reached 142.2 dBA, which is so far over 85 dB it is hard to imagine. I have often wondered who went home with permanent ringing in their ears and or hearing loss after that game.

7. Parades
Not something one would think of when considering noise damage, however marching bands, sirens, loud motorcycles, and revving engines can all have an effect, especially on children and babies. Protect those little ears, and while you’re at it, pop some plugs into your ears as well.

8. Yard work
Keep your hearing and have a beautiful yard with hearing protection. Maintaining your equipment can help it run quieter, and if you can change your equipment from gas powered to electric you will also be able to reduce the noise.

9. Car races
Average noise level from most races is 90 – 115 dB depending on the cars, but “sound levels can reach as high as 130 dB, the human hearing thresholds for pain”. Always remember your children’s ears at these races; their immature auditory system is even more vulnerable than yours so protect them as well as yourself.

10. Air shows
Who doesn’t enjoy a good air show on a hot summer day with a beautiful blue sky with and planes doing amazing stunts? Unfortunately, the noise from those planes can become too much for ears, especially for children and babies. Bring your hearing protection and keep your family’s auditory systems healthy so you can still hear all of these sounds and many more for as long as possible.

The information in this post was pulled from:
Packer, Lisa. (2016).
Top 10 summer activities that are dangerous to your hearing. Healthy Hearing.

Amanda McLeod BC-HIS
Registered Hearing Aid Practitioner
Board Certified in Hearing Instrument Sciences