Life is noisy. Whether you’re just walking down the street or working on your house, you can be exposed to hazardous noise levels at any time of the day. According to the Center for Disease Control, noise above 85 dB over a prolonged period of time may start to damage your hearing and loud noise above 120 dB can cause immediate harm to your ears.
To put that in perspective, a simple kitchen appliance like a blender can generate up to 90 dB. Even the pounding of a hammer on a nail can generate up to 120 dB. Because of this, it’s wise to keep some type of hearing protection ready – whether it be earplugs or earmuffs.
Here are 5 activities where hearing protection is necessary:
Believe it or not, simply taking care of your yard can be damaging to your hearing without the right protection. Most equipment used in yard work, such as lawnmowers, weed wackers, rototillers, and leaf blowers, can reach noise levels of over 100 dB. Because of this, it may not be a bad idea to invest in a nice pair of earplugs or earmuffs if you’re working hard on your yard every weekend. Having a nice yard should not lead to hearing loss later in life.
Guns are extremely dangerous and can be incredibly harmful to your hearing. A gunshot can range, on average, from as low as 140 dB to as high as 190 dB. That’s per shot, too, so you can only imagine how loud a shooting range can get with multiple people firing off rounds at the same time. That’s why most shooting ranges require you to put on ear protection before entering. Of course, being able to hear others speak when handling dangerous firearms is important, which is why there are electronic earmuffs that filter out hazardous noises without affecting the wearer’s ability to hear speech.
People usually don’t consider wearing earplugs when going to watch the fireworks on the 4th of July. They should because the average fireworks display can get as loud as 175 dB. The risk increases tenfold when setting off your own fireworks. If you plan on getting a good spot or putting on a show of your own next year, go out and get earplugs for the whole family. They aren’t expensive and can generally be bought in bulk on the cheap. A particularly great deal is a box of 200 pairs from ULINE for only $23.
Another type of event that people rarely wear earplugs to, watching live sports in a packed stadium can expose your ears to damaging levels of noise. In fact, a Kansas City Chiefs game at Arrowhead Stadium reached a peak noise level of 142.2 dB in 2014. Likewise, a Seattle Seahawks game at CenturyLink field in 2013 reached a noise level of 137.6 dB, and a Kansas Jayhawks game at Allen Fieldhouse in 2017 reached 130.4 dB. As you can see, sporting events can get extremely loud, so wearing ear protection to a game is wise.
This should come as no surprise. Musical concerts have been notoriously loud since the days The Beatles and The Rolling Stones played their first notes on stage. Famous bands like Kiss and Led Zeppelin have put on shows that were recorded to be louder than 130 dB. If you attend concerts regularly, you definitely want to invest in a good pair of earplugs. Some brands of earplugs are designed to be discrete so they’re hard to see on the wearer. Also, some are engineered specifically for concertgoers, so they effectively protect their hearing without muffling the sound of the music too drastically.
Ear protection is inexpensive and easy to purchase. If you have patients that frequently participate in the above activities, be sure to educate them about how hazardous they can be to their hearing and direct them to the best options of protection.