Fireworks are a blast to watch. But for many, particularly little kids and pets, they are a little scary to listen to. My eldest hated the noise of fireworks when she was little. Even with ear plugs AND ear muffs, she was terrified of the loud explosions. Now a decade later, she has gotten over her fear of the noise and she actually loves fireworks, but she will still cover her ears and bury her face as much as possible to minimize the sound.  

That's a smart move, according to experts at the National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders. The group estimates that about 26 million Americans between the ages of 20 and 69 have high-frequency hearing loss from overexposure to loud noises at work or during leisure activities. Hearing loss can occur gradually over time, but can also result from a single exposure to an intense sound — like a loud fireworks show, and they caution that children are especially vulnerable to this risk.

To prevent noise-induced hearing loss this Fourth of July, the American Speech-Language Hearing Association has put together a list of tips to help you protect your hearing: 

Wear earplugs. Inexpensive and easy to use, earplugs offer excellent protection during loud events. It is key that these earplugs fit properly. For young children, earmuffs are also a good option. (Or do what my daughter did and use both.)

Keep your distance. Maintain a healthy distance from fireworks, firecrackers, speaker systems and other sources of loud noise.

Know how loud is too loud. Sounds at or above 85 decibels can cause hearing loss. The louder the sound, the shorter the time period before hearing loss can occur. Noise from exploding fireworks can top 130 decibels. It's been shown that exposure to 105 decibels for 1 hour can put you at risk for hearing damage. Various phone applications can measure sound, but a good rule of thumb is to avoid noises that are “too loud” and “too close” or that last “too long.”

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