Is that Firecracker Worth It?

What is Independence Day without fireworks? It’s like Thanksgiving without turkey or Christmas without Santa Claus…. and while no one will say that Thanksgiving dinner is good for you, at least the discomfort is only temporary. Sadly, we cannot say the same about the aftermath of a fireworks display.

The noise emitted from a firecracker can reach up to 175 decibels. Since your exposure varies according to how far away you are, it’s a good idea to watch fireworks from a distance. The World Health Organization recommends that adults be exposed to no more than 140 decibels, which can be achieved by standing well away from where the fireworks are being let off.

It’s important to remember that young ears are more vulnerable than adult ears. Children should not be exposed to more than 120 decibels and it is best to keep infants away altogether, as they are highly sensitive to the physical effects of sound pressure.

Of course, fireworks are not the only noisy sounds associated with Summer. In fact, Summer could be dubbed the noisiest season of the year with lawn mowers, jack hammers, power saws, motorcycles and outdoor concerts all emitting noises ranging from 90 to 115 decibels.

The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and the National Institute of Occupational Safety and Health have set a level of 85 decibels as the cutoff for safety. If the noise level is higher than 85 decibels, it can start to cause permanent damage to your hearing.

Normal conversation and typing on a computer are estimated to emit around 60 decibels of sound, while noise form highway traffic can reach up to 70 decibels. Once you reach the 85 decibel threshold and you have prolonged exposure to noises at that level or higher, it’s time to wear ear plugs. Wearing ear plugs while participating in noisy activities can reduce noise by 20 – 30 decibels.

With the Summer months ahead of us, plan ahead. If you’re going to a loud concert or participating in a noisy activity, take steps to protect your hearing.