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Protect Your Hearing

Sounds are everywhere, at every level. But love it or hate it, high-volume sound can actually damage your hearing. Here’s what to do and when.

Though your mind registers sounds as ”loud” and ”soft,” sound waves may be more precisely measured in decibels (dB). A whisper is about 30dB while a normal conversation measures 60-65dB. Louder sounds like a subway train or city traffic register around 80-95dB. At this point, you should start to take precautions.

Decibel comparison chart*
Audio player set at 5 of 10 volume 94dB
Power tools (drill or power saw)
Power lawnmower 107dB
Loud rock concert 115-150dB
Jet engine at 30 meters (100 feet) 140dB
12-gauge shotgun blast 165dB

Beyond 90-95dB, sustained exposure to loud sounds may result in hearing loss. Even short exposure to sounds over 125dB can cause permanent damage.

What you can do to protect your hearing:

  1. Turn it down.

    Keep your music listening enjoyable—and healthy—by keeping the volume turned below the halfway mark, especially if using earphones. Even at this level, it’s wise not to use an MP3 player or other audio device for more than four hours a day.

  2. Play it safe.

    If you work around loud noises, make sure you’re wearing proper protection. OSHA requires ear protection in most noisy environments, so use it even if you’re not regularly in the loud areas. Remember to be safe at home, too. Invest in ear protectors when using power tools and lawn equipment.

  3. Choose wisely.

    You can make active choices about the sound level in your home by choosing low-noise appliances. Refrigerators, air conditioners, etc. may have dB ratings you can compare before you buy.

  4. Stand back and take cover.

    You can’t avoid every loud noise. But when you know one is coming, do your part to stay safe. Step back from a source like an amplifier or subway. Cover your hears when walking past construction work. Just cupping your hands over your ears or gently putting your fingers in your ear canals can make a healthy difference to your long-term hearing.

*Source for dB information: Galen Carol Audio

Big noise can lead to big trouble
Know how to keep your hearing safe.

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Hearing Loss

Learn how both volume and pitch make a difference in your hearing loss.

Degrees of hearing loss