Protect Your Hearing From Fireworks

This blog has been reviewed and approved by a hearing healthcare professional.

Fireworks play a large part in celebrating long weekends during the summer, but explosive sounds like fireworks are more hazardous than other loud noises. Exploding fireworks can easily exceed 120 decibels (dB),1 which is far beyond the safe sound level of 85 dB.2

 

Being too close to exploding fireworks can result in temporary or permanent noise-induced hearing loss.3 When watching fireworks, it is best to be on the safe side and wear hearing protection or see them from a safe distance.
Why Fireworks Are So Loud?

It comes down to the chemical reaction that takes place after the fuse is lit. The burning gunpowder releases a hot gas that rapidly expands; when the gas expands to the point it runs out of room it results in an explosion caused by a blast wave.4

 

The vibration of the blast wave has the possibility of causing permanent damage to the hair cells in your inner ear.

Noise-induced Hearing Loss and Fireworks

Exposure to loud noises such as fireworks can result in:

  • Tinnitus5

  • Temporary hearing loss (less than 24 hours)5

  • Eardrum perforation5

  • After repeated exposure, it can cause permanent hearing loss5

Tips To Protect Your Hearing During Fireworks

Keep a safe distance

Make sure to stand at least 500 feet away from the fireworks launch site.

 

Use earplugs and earmuffs

Wearing noise protection is a fast and effective way to protect your ears. 

 

Know your limits

If you are experiencing ringing in your ears or any other ear discomfort, leave.

 

Avoid these fireworks

Avoid rockets, mines and any fireworks which are created to make as much noise as possible. Quieter options include fountains, wheels, falling leaves and comets which are designed for spectacular visual display but have less noise.5

 

It is important to keep in mind that if it is too loud for you, it is far too loud for children. Children’s ears are more sensitive and less tolerant of noise.5 Infants should not be exposed at all. An infant's ear canal is much smaller than a child’s or adults, so the sound pressure entering the ear is greater. What might not sound that loud to an adult can sound up to 20 decibels louder to an infant.5 
Prepare Your Hearing Aids For Fireworks

If you wear hearing aids, you can prepare them for fireworks before the show starts:

  • Wear earmuffs over your hearing aids

  • Turn off your hearing aids while the fireworks are exploding

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1 “July is Fireworks Safety Month! Take care to protect your hearing.” Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. June 30, 2020. Accessed May 27, 2022. https://www.cdc.gov/nceh/hearing_loss/toolkit/firework_safety.html

2 “Loud Noise Dangers.” American Speech-Language-Hearing Association. Accessed May 27, 2022. https://www.asha.org/public/hearing/loud-noise-dangers/

3 “New Year for Your Ears.” Widex. November 18, 2018. Accessed May 27, 2022. https://www.widex.com/en-ca/blog/global/new-year-for-your-ears/

4 “Sounds Of The Fourth: The Science Behind The Snap, Crackle, Boom.” NPR. July 4, 2016. Accessed May 27, 2022. https://www.npr.org/2016/07/04/484713012/snap-crackle-boom-how-fireworks-design-makes-the-sounds-of-the-fourth

5 Victory, Joy. “How to protect your hearing this Fourth of July.” Healthy Hearing. June 29, 2021. Accessed May 27, 2022. https://www.healthyhearing.com/report/52478-How-to-protect-your-hearing-this-fourth-of-july