How to protect your hearing during fireworks.

Watching firework displays can be a fun activity to share with friends and family and they can be used at several different events such as New Years Eve, Bonfire Night, weddings and more.

Whilst it’s great to watch the night sky fill with bright colours and patterns, it’s also important to be mindful of your hearing. A sound over 85 decibels (dBA) is considered ‘loud’ for the human ear and although the noise limit for fireworks in the UK is 120 dBA, they can reach up to 140 dBA.

Sudden loud noises such as fireworks or gunfire can cause deterioration to your hearing and if you’re exposed to it for longer periods of time, it can cause permanent hearing loss. This is why people who work in loud environments are required to wearing hearing protection by law in the UK. Exposure to excessive noise is generally considered to be the second most common cause of hearing loss. Thankfully, firework displays only last for a brief amount of time and when viewed from a safe distance, they shouldn’t cause any lasting damage. However, some people often experience tinnitus after listening to fireworks, you can find more information on tinnitus here.

We have 6 tips for looking after your ears:

  • Keep a safe distance away. It’s recommended to be more at least 15-20 metres from the launch site, but the further away you are, the safer it is. For children, a greater distance of 50-60 metres is advised as their ears are more sensitive and vulnerable to damage.
  • Use hearing protection. Use quality protective earplugs or ear defenders/ear muffs. These are also recommended for children to use.
  • Attend a public firework display rather than setting off your own fireworks at home. This can help ensure you keep a safe distance.
  • Attend silent or quieter fireworks displays (which are becoming increasingly popular)
  • Drink plenty of fluids. Did you know if you’re dehydrated, the cilia (hair cells) in your inner ears become more susceptible to damage? Drinking good amounts of water can keep them strong and protect your hearing.
  • Walk away from time to time. If you feel you need to give your ears a break at any time, or if your ears begin to hurt, it’s definitely time to step away.

Hearing aid and cochlear implant users

If you are a hearing aid user or have a cochlear implant, it’s recommended that you switch off your devices during a firework display. Turning down the volume on your hearing device could also be enough to avoid any excessive noise exposure. However, for anyone who has tinnitus as well as hearing loss, turning off hearing aids/cochlear implants is strongly advised.

You can also help protect your hearing aids against the cold temperature by wearing ear muffs.

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