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Protect your hearing when celebrating with fireworks

FRANKFORT, Ky. (June 27, 2005) - For many Kentuckians, watching brightlycolored fireworks is a traditional part of their Fourth of July celebration.But the Kentucky Commission on the Deaf and Hard of Hearing (KCDHH) wantKentuckians to know that while fireworks are pretty they're also loud andcan cause noise-induced hearing loss.

"Most people are aware that fireworks can injure your eyes and hands orcause burns but many people do not know that a firecracker is in the upperrange of noise that is considered hazardous to your hearing. Noise-inducedhearing loss can happen from exposure to one loud noise or from repeatedexposure to less intense noise over a period of time and the damage can bepermanent," said KCDHH Commissioner Susan Brown, an audiologist at MurrayState University.

Brown is one of 14 commissioners from across Kentucky.According to the National Institute on Deafness and Other CommunicationDisorders (NIDCD), noise at 85 decibels (dB) or above can cause damage tohearing; fireworks can reach up to 140 dB. A decibel is a unit that measuresthe intensity of sound on a scale from zero to 140. A normal conversation isabout 60 while a gunshot or jet engine taking off is about 140 dB.

Of the 28 million Americans who have some degree of hearing loss, aboutone-third can attribute their hearing loss, at least in part, to noise,according to NIDCD. In addition to fireworks, Brown warns Kentuckians to beaware of other noise hazards that people may not realize can damage hearingsuch as loud music, lawn mowers, chainsaws, concerts, gunshots, motorcyclesand sirens. Noise exposure also can cause a ringing, roaring or buzzingsound in your ears or head called tinnitus.

According to NIDCD, you have probably been exposed to hazardous noise ifsomeone who is arm's length away has to raise his voice for you tounderstand, your ears are ringing or sounds seem dull or flat after leavinga noisy place.

"Noise-induced hearing loss is totally preventable if people become aware ofthe danger and take steps to protect their hearing," said Brown. "You canlearn about noise levels, wear protective devices such as earplugs orearmuffs, avoid noisy environments, limit the time of exposure and educateother people about the hazards. In the case of fireworks, the safest way tocelebrate is to leave fireworks to trained professionals."

According to NIDCD, more than 30 million Americans are exposed to hazardoussound levels on a regular basis at home, work or during recreationalactivities. It's also important for parents to protect their children'shearing from hazardous noise, Brown said.

More than 400,000 Kentuckians are deaf or hard of hearing, but many of thosewith mild hearing loss often go undiagnosed. Brown recommends thatKentuckians have regular hearing tests to detect gradual hearing loss or ifthey experience any changes in their hearing because treatment, services andassistive listening devices are available.

"There is an array of state and national resources that are available topeople with hearing loss. The Kentucky Commission on the Deaf and Hard ofHearing can help as an information, referral and advocacy agency," saidBrown.

KCDHH has a resource library in Frankfort that can be accessed in person orthrough the mail for people who do not live near Frankfort. Books andvideotapes on topics ranging from coping with a hearing loss to assistivedevices, legal rights and parenting a child with a hearing loss areavailable through the library. KCDHH also distributes free specializedtelephone equipment to any Kentucky resident who has a hearing loss orspeech impairment that affects his ability to effectively communicate usinga regular telephone.

For more information about KCDHH services, contact the commission toll-freeat 1-800-372-2907 (V/T) or 502-573-2604 (V/T) or online at commission and the resource library are located at 632 Versailles Roadin Frankfort.
KCDHH is an agency of the Kentucky Education Cabinet. The Education Cabinetcoordinates learning programs from P-16, and manages and supports trainingand employment functions in the Department for Workforce Investment. Formore information about our programs, visit orcall 502-564-6606.
Story courtesy Kentucky Education Cabinet. Contact: Kim Saylor Brannock (502) 564-6606 ext. 13. Email:

This story was posted on 2005-07-01 18:00:00
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