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Checking the volume on your summer fun

Contributed by , staff writer

We all look forward to the activities that make summer so memorable each year: concerts, pool parties, motorcycle rides, putting the top down on your convertible. But you may not consider the decibel level these activities can reach or the potential damage they are doing to your hearing.

Did you know that it only takes exposure to 90-95 decibels to cause sustained hearing loss? To put that in perspective, your lawn mower can reach up to 107 decibels on the sound level scale. City traffic reads around 85 decibels, and a rock concert is typically around 115 decibels.

So how do you know when loud is too loud? Ear pain kicks in around 125 decibels, but that can alert you too late to the hearing damage that could already be in progress. First, be aware of the decibel levels of common activities, and when hearing loss can begin.

noise and lawn mowing
Most individuals don't realize how noisy the lawn
mower can be! It rings in at 107 decibels! 

Another great method is to download a sound level meter on your smartphone, which can read the noise levels around you with the tap of a finger. Having a tool like this handy can keep you aware of an overly noisy environment and ensures your hearing health is always in the back of your mind (which it should be anyway).

Here are a few common summer activities, their decibel levels, and how to prevent them from damaging your hearing.

Summer concerts: 115 decibels

No one goes to a concert to hear quiet music. But many times the noise level is much worse than you might imagine and is potentially harmful. If you do go to a concert, be sure to stand back a good distance away from the speakers. Also keep a pair of earplugs in your pocket in case you’re stuck in a place where the noise level is higher than normal. If you have the option, choose a spot high above the stage, like on a second level. That way you can have the view without standing directly next to the stage and the speakers.

Lawn mowing: 107 decibels

Lawn mowers are loud. There’s nothing we can do about that. You also don’t have a choice in using them, since your backyard will turn into a wilderness if neglected. Earplugs are essential here, and since no one enjoys the sound of a lawn mower, you’re not compromising on your hearing in the process. Be sure to insert the earplugs correctly to maximize their protecting effects.

Hunting: 165 decibels

A shotgun blast can rupture your hearing quickly. An extremely loud, sudden sound like a gunshot can rip through the inner ear hairs that convert sounds to signals your brain can read, leaving a hole in your hearing. Always wear ear protection when around firearms, and use silencers or quieter options whenever possible.

Construction: 95-125 decibels

Depending on the severity of the construction, it can be extremely loud and damaging. Always wear ear protection when around construction sites, particularly if you work around them regularly. Summer is the season for construction projects, so keep earplugs handy and be sure to avoid construction areas whenever possible.

Summertime brings people out of the inner woodwork of their houses and office buildings. While that’s great, it also brings about a number of problems that could affect your hearing. By being aware and keeping earplugs in your car or purse, you can prevent much of the potential hearing damage the warmer weather brings.

So break out that sunscreen, but don’t forget the earplugs!

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