How-To Series: Protecting Your Hearing on Fireworks Night

Crowd of people enjoying a fireworks display

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With Bonfire Night right around the corner, many of us are looking forward to enjoying colourful and dazzling fireworks as they light up the sky. Most people are well aware that, if not handled properly, fireworks can cause serious damage such as burns to the hands and face, and even blindness. But did you know that they can also hurt your hearing?

What Are the Risks?

Noise-induced hearing loss can occur after continuous exposure to excessively loud sounds, but it can also be triggered by a single loud sound, especially if you are too close to its source. Such is the case with fireworks and firecrackers.

Noise above 70 dBA over a prolonged period of time can begin to damage your hearing. The legal noise limit for fireworks in the UK is 120 dBA, which is already a noise level that has the potential to cause immediate harm to your ears. However, fireworks are thought to sometimes reach a level as high as 140 dBA!

Noise levels intensity graphic

What is more, your hearing may be hurt without you realising it, since the intensity of a sound doesn’t always define the loudness with which it is perceived. A sound that seems loud in an enclosed space may be unnoticeable if you are, for example, on a busy street. The chances of your hearing being damaged increase with the intensity of the sound, not with how loud you perceive it as.

Since firework displays usually take place at large open spaces, the sounds they produce might not necessarily feel very loud, however their intensity is still harmful to your ears.

Symptoms of Noise-Induced Hearing Loss

If you are experiencing any of these symptoms, your hearing might have been hurt due to noise exposure:

  • Sounds seem muffled and speech is hard to understand
  • Issues hearing high-pitched sounds (such as birds chirping, leaves rustling, rain, etc.)
  • Trouble with speech discrimination in spaces with lots of background noise such as restaurants
  • A constant ringing or buzzing sound (tinnitus) which may subside eventually, even though tinnitus can sometimes become constant or periodically re-occur throughout an individual’s life
  • A temporary hearing loss which disappears 16 to 48 hours later

If you think you might have noise-induced hearing loss after seeing a fireworks display, make sure to book an appointment with a hearing care professional.

Tips to Safely Enjoy Fireworks Night:

1. Ensure you are not standing too close to the fireworks, music amplifiers, or other sources of loud noise. The further away you are, the better your hearing will be protected.

2. Instead of setting off your own fireworks at home, opt for attending a public display. Leaving fireworks to professionals is always better, and community displays usually have an area sectioned off where you can view (and listen to) the display safely.

3. Make sure to drink plenty of fluids. If you are dehydrated, the hair cells in your inner ear are more susceptible to damage, so it can be a good idea to take a bottle of water with you.

4. Fireworks displays don’t usually last for too long, but keep in mind that the longer your ears are exposed to loud sounds, the higher the risk is of your hearing being damaged. Walking away from time to time to give your ears a break can help.

5. The best way to ensure your hearing is safe from harm is to wear a pair of quality protective earplugs. In this way, you will still be able to hear, but harmful noises will be minimised.

mack soft foam ear plugs

Ear Protection Products

Hearing Aid Accessories offer a wide range of ear protection products that can help you enjoy this year’s fireworks displays safely. Ear protectors isolate your ears from dangerous levels of sound by preventing harmful sound waves from travelling directly into your eardrum through the air. Instead, the sound waves are forced to go through the ear protection product, which makes them lose energy as they travel, resulting in a reduced intensity of the sound.

Click here to view our range and find the product that’s best for you!

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