Six things parents need to know about fireworks and noiseIn honor of the United States’ Independence Day, the Pennsylvania Ear Institute of Salus University (PEI) would like to inform parents of six things they should know to reduce the risk of fireworks- related ear injuries and hearing loss in their children.
  1. Fireworks can be louder than jet engines. Fireworks range anywhere from 150 decibels to 175 decibels. A jet engine at takeoff is 150 decibels. According to the United States Consumer Product Safety Commission, 19 percent of injuries related to fireworks involve the ear. Parents should take adequate steps to ensure their child is at a safe distance and avoids prolonged exposure to the deafening sound of fireworks. 
  2. Commercial fireworks are louder than consumer fireworks. To celebrate the Fourth of July, many cities and sometimes companies will have their own fireworks display. Since these fireworks are not purchased over the counter, they are significantly more powerful. To account for this, commercial fireworks detonate higher up in the sky which dissipates much of the sound. 
  3. Consumer fireworks detonate lower to the ground. While consumer fireworks are less powerful than commercial ones, detonating closer to the ground gives the sound less time to dissipate over the area, making them seem much louder. Parents should make sure children cover their ears or use ear protection such as ear plugs or headsets. 
  4. The World Health Organization (WHO) recommends only brief exposure to the sound of fireworks. Conversations are at 60 decibels. According to the WHO, people can comfortably withstand 85 decibels for eight hours.  However, for every three decibels above 85, the time is reduced by one half.  Parents should be sure to leave the venue with their children before the intense sound of fireworks begin to have a negative effect on their children’s hearing. 
  5. Children cannot withstand as many decibels as their parents. Adults can withstand noise up to 140 decibels, according to the WHO. Children however, can only withstand noise up to 120 decibels. What may be completely tolerable and entertaining to a parent may be too intense for a child, and can cause significant ear damage. 
  6. If a parent believes their child has an ear injury or hearing loss, they should make an appointment with an audiologist at the Pennsylvania Ear Institute. PEI specializes in early identification and intervention for hearing loss in children.
PEI is located at 8380 Old York Rd, Suite 120 in Elkins Park, PA on the campus of Salus University. To make an appointment, call 215-780-3180.

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