The sounds of summer and hearing safety

You hear the crack of the bat; it’s a grand slam and the crowd goes wild! Baseball games and summertime just go together. However, noise-induced hearing loss (NIHL) can also come along with it. Some of our favorite summer activities are associated with sound levels that can cause hearing loss, both temporary and permanent. Exposure to loud noises (85+ dB) for a prolonged period can cause damage to your hearing. Hearing loss can progress as exposure to the sound continues. The louder a sound is, the less time it takes to cause hearing loss. Exposure to an extremely loud noise can cause immediate damage (NIDCD). Let’s look at the levels of some common summer sounds. 

  • Lawnmower 80-95 dB 
  • Dirt bike 80-110 dB 
  • Cicadas 90-100 dB 
  • Baseball game 100 dB 
  • Concert 105-110 dB 
  • Ice cream truck 110 dB 
  • Jet ski 115 dB 
  • Fireworks 140-160 dB 

 When you know you will be encountering these sounds, make a plan to protect your hearing while still having fun. Keep in mind the “rule of too.” Avoid sounds that are too loud, too close, or last too long (NIDCD). If something is too loud, use hearing protection such as earplugs, earmuffs or noise cancellation headphones. Even device users with residual hearing could benefit from hearing protection. Consult the audiologist for more specific recommendations. If the sound source is too close, increase the distance between yourself and the noise. If you know the sound exposure will be for too long, take breaks from the noise. Go inside the baseball or concert stadium; turn off the lawnmower or dirt bike for a few minutes.  

How do you know if a sound is too loud? Trust your instincts; if a sound seems too loud, it probably is. If you need to raise your volume to communicate effectively, the sounds around you are likely above 85 dB. To get more specific sound levels, consider downloading a sound level meter (SLM) app to your smartphone or device. The CDC recommends the NIOSH SLM app (CDC). 

Following the “rule of too” ensures you enjoy the sounds of summer while protecting your hearing. To read more about noise-induced hearing loss and prevention strategies, visit the CDC or NIDCD websites.  

Abby Meister

Abby Meister, MSDE, CED is the Content Coordinator of the Emerson Center for Professional Development at CID – Central Institute for the Deaf. She has been a teacher of the deaf for over 10 years, primarily working with children ages 2-5. She has presented at professional conferences with content focusing on early intervention and listening and spoken language strategies for children who are deaf or hard of hearing. She received her master’s degree in deaf education through the Program in Audiology and Communication Sciences (PACS) at Washington University.

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