Fireworks Can Cause Permanent Hearing Loss, But Simple Steps Can Prevent Harm This July 4th

It’s Easy and Inexpensive to Protect Your Hearing, Says ASHA, Five Safety Tips for Children and Adults

June 24, 2024

(Rockville, MD) As people across the country prepare for their July 4th celebrations, the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association (ASHA) is raising awareness about a commonly overlooked Independence Day health hazard: hearing loss.

Fireworks and firecrackers can register 150 decibels at 3 feet away—well beyond the safe listening volume of 75–80 decibels. Noise at this level can cause permanent damage in less than 1 second, something for families to understand as they make their holiday plans.

“Noise-induced hearing loss is irreversible, but fortunately, it’s also preventable,” said Tena McNamara, AuD, CCC-A/SLP, 2024 ASHA President. “Awareness of the risks that fireworks and other loud noises pose to our hearing, and taking a few very easy steps, are key to protecting ourselves and our loved ones.”

ASHA shares these tips to prevent permanent hearing damage:

  1. Wear hearing protection. Foam ear plugs available online or in a drugstore are highly effective at dampening noise to a safe level for most adults and teens. Younger kids should wear well-fitting, child-sized ear muffs. “Basic earplugs can cost pennies per pair, but the reward they provide in the form of protecting our hearing is priceless,” McNamara says.
  2. Maintain a safe distance. Stand at least 500 feet away from noise sources such as a fireworks launch site or a speaker. “The farther away you are, the safer your ears will be,” according to McNamara.
  3. Heed noise warnings. Many smartphones and smartwatches will automatically alert you when you are in a location loud enough to cause hearing damage. If not, you can download a free sound-level meter app to your phone.
  4. Take listening breaks. If you are in a noisy place for a long period of time, step out regularly (at least once per hour) to give your ears a rest. “Even a few minutes can give your ears an opportunity to recover,” says McNamara.
  5. Listen to your body. If you are experiencing any pain, ringing in your ears, or changes in your hearing, leave the area immediately. If symptoms persist into the next day, visit an audiologist for a hearing evaluation.

“We want people to have fun this July 4th, but to do so with their hearing in mind,” said McNamara. “If you want to continue to experience the many life pleasures that your hearing affords you—from the music you enjoy to the voices of those you love—make the effort to protect it.”

For more information and tips, visit

About the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association (ASHA)
ASHA is the national professional, scientific, and credentialing association for 234,000 members, certificate holders, and affiliates who are audiologists; speech-language pathologists; speech, language, and hearing scientists; audiology and speech-language pathology assistants; and students. Audiologists specialize in preventing and assessing hearing and balance disorders as well as providing audiologic treatment, including hearing aids. Speech-language pathologists (SLPs) identify, assess, and treat speech, language, and swallowing disorders.

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