The 4th of July is just around the corner and you're eagerly making the traditional plans that you hold to every year: good food, good drinks, great company, and of course, lots of fireworks. But this year you have a new family member, and it just dawned on you that your traditions might need to change. Like many parents, you're wondering, "how do fireworks affect my baby's hearing?" The answer is pretty important.
According to Audiologist Nathan Williams of Boys Town National Research Hospital, infants should not be exposed to fireworks because of the risk of hearing loss. In an article on the hospital's website, Williams wrote that watching a fireworks display, whether public or private, carries the potential for hearing loss for people of all ages, and babies experience the greatest amount of sound pressure. The sound output of fireworks, Williams explained, is between 150 to 175 decibels and the World Health Organization recommended adults not be exposed to more than 140, and children 120 decibels.
The further away you are from fireworks, the less risk you take with your or your loved one's hearing. If your heart is set on fireworks for the 4th of July, go to a public display rather than lighting up your own driveway, and take a seat near the back.
In an interview with Everyday Family, Baltimore pediatrician Dr. Charles Shubin said his opinion is that a fireworks viewing should be harmless for an infant, assuming there is a safe distance between the fireworks and the baby. In the same article, it is suggested that parents of very young children find a spot a few miles away to enjoy the spectacle. Yes, you read that right: miles.
According to the advice of medical professionals, this is probably not the year to have Uncle Joe fire 'em up in your backyard. Unless of course, your baby is sleeping blissfully through it all in the safety of his cozy nursery inside the well-insulated house. Otherwise, well, at least the hot dogs and baked beans don't have to change.