Beyond the Ooh’s and Ahh’s: How fireworks can damage your child’s hearing

Nothing says happy summer more than the celebration of America’s independence. Of course, the culmination of that day along with other summer classics such as baseball and festivals likely conclude with a grand show of brilliantly displayed fireworks.

Personal Baby Products - thermometer_decibel_chart

Many parents have not thought twice about how fireworks can damage your child’s hearing.

As parents, we’ve heard and heeded the warnings to leave the pyrotechnics to the pros; to be cautious with caps and sparklers and for Pete’s sake, keep the bottle rockets away from crazy Uncle Bob. We’ve meticulously sprayed our children with bug repellent, ensured they don’t wander too far from our blankets on the lawn and made that one last trip to the potty before the Big Show begins.

However, many parents have not thought twice about how fireworks can damage your child’s hearing.

A recent CTV article recounted the sad and tragic news of premature twins who died one day following the thunder of canons as part of a fireworks festival event. The infants were in the Neo Natal Intensive Care Unit at St. Boniface Hospital where loud sounds were not allowed; however, the fireworks and canons just outside the window caused added stress to the already fragile babies. As a result, their heart rate elevated, blood pressure elevated and they turned red. It was too much for their tiny systems to tolerate. As a result, a special sound check will be conducted for this years festival, ensuring the wellbeing for not only those inside the hospital, but attendees as well.

What is a safe decibel for children before it can damage your child’s hearing? Check out the decibel graph from dangerousdecibels.org and notice the decibel level of fireworks. It’s shocking. According to the EPA (epa.gov), “Children often participate in recreational activities that can harm their hearing. These activities include attending music concerts and sporting events, fireworks, playing with noisy toys and video games, and listening to personal music players. Because of excessive exposure to noise, an estimated 5 million children suffer from Noise Induced Hearing Loss (NIHL). In addition, noise exposure can harm a child’s physical and psychological health.”

Adverse Health Effects Noise can pose a serious threat to a child’s physical and psychological health, including learning and behavior.

Noise can:

  • INTERFERE WITH SPEECH AND LANGUAGE. Repeated exposure to noise during critical periods of development may affect a child’s acquisition of speech, language, and language-related skills, such as reading and listening.
  • IMPAIR LEARNING. The inability to concentrate in a noisy environment can affect a child’s capacity to learn.
  • IMPAIR HEARING. Tinnitus, often described as a ringing or buzzing sound in the ear, is a symptom associated with many forms of hearing loss. NIHL is a permanent hearing impairment resulting from prolonged exposure to high levels of noise or by sudden high level (impulse) noise.
  • DISTURB THE CARDIOVASCULAR SYSTEM. Elevated blood pressure and other cardiovascular ailments can be found in children who are chronically exposed to loud noise. DISRUPT SLEEP. Noise can awaken a child or disrupt his or her sleep patterns.

What you can do:

Take the following steps to protect your child from the physical and psychological effects of noise:

  • Instruct him or her to walk away from sources of loud noises. • Limit the amount of time spent on noisy activities.
  • Lower the volume.
  • Have your child’s hearing tested if he/she routinely participates in noisy activities, such as playing an instrument or attending concerts or sporting events.
  • Ensure that he or she wears child-sized hearing protection, such as earplugs or earmuffs, during noisy activities and events.
  • Create a quiet learning and sleeping environment.

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