Diana Wilson of Mission Children’s Hospital in Asheville offers these great tips for keeping your little ones safe while using fireworks, as seen in WNC Parent.
You know that protecting your child’s hearing is important, so this summer keep in mind situations where children are exposed to loud noise. Following the three simple steps below suggested by the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association’s “Listen to Your Buds” campaign can help prevent noise-induced hearing loss related to the use of headphones and can also be applied to other common sources of loud noise exposure during summer.
Turn down the volume
For a lot of children, summertime means more opportunity to enjoy their favorite music and videos. Research has shown that listening to loud music on a personal listening device is significantly associated with increased risk of hearing loss. Some ideas for “turning down the volume” include avoiding the use of personal listening devices for as long as is reasonable for your child. Without the introduction by family, many young children are happy not to use their own listening devices. Second, consider using an app that sets limits on the device’s volume. Some devices and earphones already have volume-limiting options.
So, how do you turn down the volume at events like summer concerts where the music can reach as high as 110 decibels? One idea is to opt for an outdoor venue where the sound level may be less intense or to move to a less noisy location to give little ears a break.
Hearing protection is another option for reducing volume around lawn equipment, auto racing events and fireworks. For older children, a simple, usually inexpensive solution is foam earplugs. To achieve the rated noise reduction with foam earplugs, it is important to follow the directions to properly place them in the ear — with clean hands, roll the earplug tightly and allow to expand in the ear. Gently pulling up and back on the ear can help.
Because foam earplugs can be a potential choking hazard and may not create the seal needed to reduce noise levels in small ears, the recommended hearing protection for young children is earmuffs. Fortunately, it seems there has been an increase in the selection of children’s hearing protection in the last few years. Check drugstores and search online for kids hearing protection.
Another option for some children is custom hearing protection. This option is usually a little more expensive. A mold is made of the ear, usually by an audiologist, and several different colors and styles can be selected. Custom and some non-custom hearing protection can have sound filters that are especially useful for musicians that protect hearing from high intensity sounds but also keep music sounding more natural.
Limit listening time
Hearing loss due to noise exposure is related both to the intensity of the sound and the amount of time exposed to the sound. Setting limits on the time of personal listening devices can be useful. Parents and older children should also try to stay aware of the total exposure to loud sounds, even from different sources, and take a listening break when needed.
Model good behaviors
As with other aspects of a healthy lifestyle, modeling good hearing health habits can help a child develop those behaviors. When children see their parent, grandparent or older sibling wearing hearing protection or avoiding loud sounds, they will likely feel more comfortable doing the same. And, this not only helps the child but also the adult. If the sound is too loud for a child, it may also be harmful to an adult’s hearing, even if it doesn’t seem too loud.