If you’ve lived in the Las Angeles area for the past few years, you probably have noticed that people like to get a jump on Fourth of July celebrations a little early. But if it seems like firework shows have arrived earlier and more intensely this year, you’re not imagining it.
The Impact of Illegal Firework Shows
A petition has been circulating since the end of June calling on police to enforce laws restricting illegal firework use.
“In the Silverlake/Los Feliz/Echo Park neighborhoods of Los Angeles, illegal fireworks are constantly going off, and our veterans and animals suffer for months on end because of it,” the petition read.
Similar complaints have been made across the nation; New York City got 80 times the number of illegal firework complaints in the first half of June than it did during the same timeframe a year ago.
“I think it’s a lot of people who have been pent-up and need to blow off steam,” one resident told the New York Times. “But it’s just adding a whole other layer of anxiety.”
There are a number of theories about why this year is different. One is that the coronavirus lockdown has made people restless. Another is that cancelled firework shows have motivated people to go out and purchase their own. Most likely, many factors are contributing.
The Impact on Your Hearing
Fireworks are dangerous for a number of reasons, which is why most cities, counties and states have unique regulations about what fireworks can and cannot be used. In addition to risks to persons and properties, firework shows can have a devastating impact on your hearing.
Within the inner ear are tiny hair cells called stereocilia, which convert soundwaves into energy that the brain interprets as sound. When these hairs are damaged by loud sounds, they do not regenerate. According to OSHA, any sound over 85 dB can cause hearing damage over time – yet fireworks at close range can reach levels between 150 and 175 dB.
How to Watch Fireworks Safely
When you enjoy the firework show, make sure you do so safely to prevent hearing loss. Follow the tips below:
- Watch from a distance of at least 500 feet.
- Skip home displays; instead find a good viewpoint of your neighborhood or watch your neighbors’ show from the safety of your house.
- Bring earplugs and/or earmuffs if you watch from up-close. These can be purchased inexpensively at a drug store or custom-made at an audiologist’s office.
- If you buy fireworks, pay attention to the noise level rating and opt for quieter options like fountains, wheels, falling leaves and comets.
- Avoid rockets, mines and any fireworks with many blasts strung together.
For more information or to schedule a hearing test, call Decibel Hearing today.