By Duncan Collet-Fenson, Audiologist & MD of Aston Hearing
With bonfire night fast approaching, many of us will be looking forward to autumnal fun with bonfires and fireworks. Most of us know to avoid the risk of burns because of fireworks but they can also be dangerous to our hearing whether you are attending an organised event or just having a few fireworks in your garden.
- In the U.K. the legal noise limit is 120dB for fireworks, but this is 35dB above the level at which hearing damage can occur.
- The risk to your hearing depends on how long your ears are exposed to the loud noise, and at a level of 120dB it only takes seconds to risk permanent damage.
- The risks if your ears and hearing are not being protected include ear damage and hearing loss. Sudden Sensorineural hearing Loss (SSNHL) and tinnitus. We therefore need to protect our ears from over-exposure to noise because otherwise the consequences can be life changing.
WHAT TO DO
- The best approach to avoid risks to your hearing is to wear some good earplugs. For adults, earmuffs are effective because they comprise ear cups lined with sound-deadening material which absorbs sound waves preventing hearing damage. However they usually offer less protection than ear plugs because they sit over the ears, rather than directly in the ear canal. Earmuffs are still better than no protection at all.
- Ensure you don’t stand too close to the fireworks, speaker systems, music amplifiers and other sources of loud noise. Keep your distance.
- If you find yourself close to a very loud noise source (120dB or above), without ear protection, plug your ears with your fingers immediately and move yourself away as quickly as possible.
- If hearing protection is recommended wear it correctly, because for it to be effective you must wear it correctly 100% of the time that you are exposed.
- Statistics show that your ears need around 16 hours to fully recover just from a loud night out so give your ears the downtime they need after you have been exposed to loud noise.