Thursday, October 17, 2013

hearing safety for kids

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toy vehicles that screech sirens and motor sounds.  ipads with earphones.  movies and live concerts.  all of these things provide noises at levels that are above the safe levels for children. 
 
hearing safety. it's not one of those jump-out safety topics that's on the headlines frequently.  i'd actually venture to say that it's more of a forgotten safety issue for many parents.  but it's honestly an easy one to forget... not like putting on sunscreen to prevent sunburns or looking both ways before crossing the street.  hearing loss is invisible, intangible, and most importantly, irreversible.   

there are a ton of facts out there on hearing loss.  i briefly contemplated sharing some of them with you, but didn't want to come of all ranty and holier-than-thou.  so here are two bits that i learned that i was unaware of...
  • 17/1000 children under 18 have lost some or all of their hearing (source) 
  • A normal conversation happens at about 60 decibels.  Hearing loss can occur at anything above 85 decibels within 15 minutes of exposure in smaller dB cases.  (source)

here are some ways you can protect your child's hearing:

use hearing protection
when your family goes to concerts, live shows, and yes, even movies, ear protection is the safest and most assured way of protecting your children's hearing.  most of these events boast environments with noise levels loud enough to cause hearing damage after 15 minutes of exposure. 

turn down the earphones
a good rule of thumb: if you can hear the sound coming out of the earbuds in your child's ears, it's probably too loud.  right now with Bear {5}, this isn't too much of an issue as he rarely will use them.  but with Pip {17}, it's something that we can monitor because she's older and uses them.

muffle the toys
before buying toys that make noise, activate them and put them up to your ears.  though we can't actually measure the decibels ourselves, we can certainly tell how loud is too loud.  if a toy's volume makes you grimace or makes your ears ring, it'sin many cases, these baby toys and child toys, when placed directly to the ear, are deafening.... literally.  we have had several toys over the years that have "run out" of batteries and never been brought back to life with new ones because they are noises that i just. can't. stand. 

but then there are the toys that i don't mind the noises, it's just their volume that's disconcerting.  this is how i fix them so that they aren't so loud.  (please note: if you use my method, the glue makes it a permanent fix that is not reversible.)
 
1. Supplies: scissors, strong super glue, craft foam, tape
2. Cut a square of foam to fit in the space over the speaker and the area surrounding it.
3.  Glue down the craft foam and use tape to hold it until glue is dry.
arm your kids with knowledge
the website It's a Noisy Planet has a great interactive sound ruler that lets you explore differnent decibel levels and their effects with kids.  by helping kids learn the dangers of hearing loss and how to prevent it, they can be their own hearing safety advocates as they grow.

know the signs of hearing loss
most of our children received hearing screens when they were born and get them annually at their exams.  but in between those times, watch for:
  • persistent ear-ringing or pain
  • asking "what" or for you to repeat yourself frequently
  • consistently turns up the volume on the tv because they can't hear it well

you can find more signs of hearing loss in children here.  if you have any questions or concerns about your child's hearing health or safety, contact your child's physician.
 
 
 
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Disclaimer: The information contained in this post is not meant to provide or replace medical advice.

1 comment:

maryanne @ mama smiles said...

I love your toy volume fix - brilliant! Why do they always make kids toys so LOUD?

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