It’s Summertime and the Livin’ is Noisy

It’s July 4th weekend and for many of us it marks our return to at least some degree of socializing. Picnics are good. But beware fireworks, marching bands, ceremonial cannon shots. These are all part of celebrating our nation’s birthday. They are also all hazardous to your hearing health.

Fireworks can easily be 150 decibels.

That may be even more true this year. Living in relative isolation, with quick trips to the supermarket, most of us haven’t been exposed to anywhere near the amount and intensity of noise that we encountered in everyday life pre-Covid. I wonder if this respite from noise now makes us more susceptible to noise damage.

Here are a few reminders of how you can protect your hearing.

Fireworks. Don’t stay home from celebrations, but do buy yourself a good pair of earplugs. You’ll still hear the boom, and earplugs won’t diminish the visual spectacle. A website called The Best Earbuds offers advice accumulated from readers and personal experience. This article from Healthy Hearing explains why fireworks are so loud, and also offers a guide to commonly encountered noise.

Yard cleanup. Don’t use that chainsaw to cut dead limbs without a good pair of noise-canceling headphones. I don’t mean those fancy Bose headphones that people wear on airplanes (which cost around $300). Headphones specifically made for yard work are much less expensive and better protection. A chainsaw registers at about 118 decibels. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration requires ear protection in the workplace at that decibel level for any duration of time.

Auto racing. You may be a diehard NASCAR fan, but auto racing is about the same noise level as a jackhammer — that is, LOUD. 130 dBs. The drivers and crew wear headphones. So should you.

Summer workouts. You want to get rid of the Covid 15. The weather finally cooperates. But if you’re motivating yourself with music coming in to your ears through earbuds, check the decibel level. You don’t want to improve your cardiovascular health at the expense of your hearing. Some experts recommend keeping the volume at 80 percent or below..

Outdoor concerts. What could the problem be? You’re in the great outdoors. But don’t forget that music (and sports) venues are designed to retain the sound. In fact, if the noise spills over into neighboring areas, the venue may have to be redesigned. There’s a reason so many musicians and fans have hearing loss and tinnitus.  Wear noise-canceling earbuds or headphones.

It’s summertime, and the livin’ is noisy. Hold on to your hearing so you can keep on enjoying it year after year. My iPhone has a decibel meter and I imagine other smart phones do as well. Check to see what you’re being exposed to. And if it’s too loud for too long, put on your noise-cancelling earbuds or headphones.


For more about living with hearing loss, read my books “Smart Hearing: Strategies, Skills and Resources for Living Better With Hearing Loss” and “Shouting Won’t Help: Why I and 50 Million Other Americans Can’t Hear You.” Both are available as ebook and paperback on

4 thoughts on “It’s Summertime and the Livin’ is Noisy

  1. Perhaps you could address these issues for bilateral ci folks. Not sure but it seems to me that ear buds whould be of little use but turning the volume down or shutting them off–but shutting them off omits any local conversation, Thanks for raising this issue in a very timely way.


    • As someone who is bilateral, I can testify that none of the things Katherine lists are a real problem. They may be annoying, , but not a problem. The technology bypasses the parts of the ear that can be damaged by noise.


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