It’s hard to imagine the 4th of July without fireworks. But that doesn’t mean some thought shouldn’t go into it. Fireworks are dangerous. They mix fire and explosives, so, duh.
But often overlooked is the fact that they are also dangerous to ears. They can create sounds that measure as high as 175 decibels, well above the threshold for damage of about 100 decibels.
If you’re going to be anywhere near a fireworks display over the holiday it is well worth considering some kind of ear protection, especially for any children who may be with you.
Remember that younger ears are more easily damaged by loud noises, especially those of infants. Due to the narrowness of their ear canals, children actually deal with greater sound pressure from loud noises than an adult under the same circumstances.
Foam earplugs will usually do the job for adults. Sturdier and more substantial earmuffs are better for children.
The simplest thing you can do to protect your ears is actually make sure you’re far enough away. Professional pyrotechnicians understand this, which is why they design the placement of their launch areas and the public viewing areas with enough distance to ensure ear damage doesn’t happen.
If you want to shoot off some of your own fireworks, pay attention to the noise ratings that are required on all packaging of fireworks. Types that are on the quieter end of the spectrum include fountains, wheels, and comets — while rockets, mines, and any types that string many separate blasts in a short period of time are the most damaging to ears.