If it seems like you’ve been hearing more fireworks than usual in the days and weeks leading up to the Fourth of July, you’re not alone. National reports show that cities across the country are seeing major jumps in the number of fireworks going off.
Why the Surge in Fireworks?
According to an NPR report, “In New York City, where consumer fireworks are prohibited, there have already been more than 11,000 complaints. Officials there are trying to crack down on supply chains fueling the nightly eruptions.”
“In Boston, where firework noise is also surging, police Sgt. Detective John Boyle says, this month, there’s been 55 times more calls about illegal fireworks than last June. The noise annoys some residents and terrifies their pets,” the story continued.
There are likely many factors contributing to the rise in firework use. One of the major theories is that the pandemic and national lockdowns have caused people to feel restless. Another theory is that because social distancing guidelines have forced cities to shut down public firework shows, more people are buying their own fireworks, and are buying in bulk.
Fireworks Are Harmful to Hearing
Everyone knows that fireworks are loud. This is because burning gunpowder releases hot gas that expands rapidly; when it expands to the point there is no room left in the container, an explosion ensues, creating a blast wave.
Vibrations from a firework’s blast wave have the potential to cause irreversible damage to the tiny hair cells within the inner ear that convert soundwaves to electrical energy the brain interprets as sound. Once these cells are damaged, they do not regenerate.
Any sound over 85 dB can cause permanent damage over time, and fireworks clock in anywhere from 150 to 175 dB – more than enough to cause instant hearing loss at close range. For reference, a jet engine taking off is 140 dB, and a 12-gauge shotgun blast is around 160 dB.
Staying Safe this July Fourth
To protect your hearing this Fourth of July, keep a safe distance of 500 feet from where fireworks are being set off. If you can’t, invest in earplugs or earmuffs to protect your ears. These can be purchased inexpensively at a drug store or custom-molded in an audiologist’s office for maximum comfort and protection.
It is always best to skip the home displays, but if you must buy fireworks, check the noise level rating and opt for fountains, wheels, falling leaves and comets. These types crackle and whistle instead of creating an explosive boom.
For more information about keeping your hearing safe or to schedule a hearing test, call the experts at Hearing Center of Lake Charles today.