How Loud is Too Loud for Kids?

How Loud is Too Loud for Kids?

In Hearing Health, Hearing Loss by Jack Felix, ACA, BC, HISLeave a Comment

Jack Felix, ACA, BC, HIS

If you have kids then you know how important it is for them to get out and explore all sorts of activities to stimulate their minds and try new things such as athletic events, music performances, and parades. However, it’s important to be mindful of the volume of all the places you go. A fun parade or fireworks show can quickly get loud enough to lead to permanent hearing loss. Being a parent requires vigilance. It’s important to be aware when sounds are too loud and take precautions to protect their hearing in the future.

How loud is too loud?

The most important thing you can do in your quest to understand how to protect your children’s ears is to know when sounds are loud enough to cause damage. The volume or loudness of sound is measured in decibels (dBA) and according to The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), hearing damage can occur when you’re exposed to sounds louder than the “safe noise level” of 70 decibels for over 24 hours. If you live near a construction zone or busy road it may be a good idea to measure the level of sound in your home. To put it in perspective 70 dBA can be music in your living room dance party, TV audio, or a vacuum cleaner. As the decibels climb, the amount of time it takes for damage to occur quickly decreases. At 85 dBA it takes 8 hours of constant exposure and at 95 dBA it takes under an hour. If you go to a noisy stadium, decibel levels can easily reach 115 dBA, an exposure that can damage your child’s hearing after just 28 seconds!

Here is a chart of decibels and common sounds to better understand the risk to you and your child:

Soft music 30 decibels
Vacuum cleaner 75 decibels
Heavy traffic 80-90 decibels
Garbage truck or lawn mower 100 decibels
Sports events and rock concerts 120-130 decibels
Sirens and fireworks 140+ decibels

How Do You Know When Your Child’s Ears are At Risk?

The American Speech-Language-Hearing Association (ASHA) offers two ways to know at the moment if your child’s ears are at risk. If you have to raise your voice to feel heard in a crowd or you struggle to hear someone three feet away from you then there is an immediate risk to you and your child’s ears.

Most Smartphones now offer free apps available for download which can monitor the decibel level in most environments. They will give you an average reading of the room. If it’s higher than 85 dBA then there is an immediate risk to your family’s hearing.

Preventing Hearing Loss

Here are five rules to live by when protecting your children’s hearing:

  1. Plan ahead.
    It’s always important to be prepared when you go out on outings with your kids. Along with extra snacks and a first aid kit, be sure to pack ear protection. These can be foam ear plugs or over-the-ear protective gear. Find a set that your kids are excited about so there is no issue having them wear them. This way you can always be prepared when you stumble upon something fun and loud.
  2. Be aware of the proximity to noise
    The further you are from the noise the less of a danger it is. For instance, a safe distance for children from sounds in the 120+ decibel range is 165-200 feet. When a loud sound passes, such as an ambulance be sure to teach your child to softly cover their ears.
  3. Length of exposure
    The longer the exposure the longer the risk.
  4. Speak up.
    When a space feels too loud, let the manager know. It’s not worth lifelong hearing damage.
  5. Do your research.
    Know the decibel levels in all the places you go including your own home. Be aware of how loud it can be when the dishwasher and laundry are running at once along with the TV and voices. It can get too loud very fast!

Test for Hearing Loss

If you think your child has been exposed to sounds so loud they’ve sustained damage it’s important to have them checked out. It’s never a bad idea to check your child’s hearing annually. Schedule an appointment today and stay on top of hearing health!

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