Exposure to loud noises is one of the most common causes of hearing loss, particularly in those under 65. Sound is measured in decibels and any noise louder than 85 decibels puts your hearing at risk. The risk of hearing loss is greater the longer you are exposed or the louder the sound. However, most people don’t measure decibels on a regular basis, so here we’re going to put things into perspective by looking at activities that you shouldn’t do unless you have hearing protection.

Using power tools

Whether you have a DIY project in the garage or you work on a construction site, power tools are widely known to cause hearing loss over prolonged use. In the vast majority of workplaces where power tools or loud machinery is used, hearing protection is not just recommended, it’s mandatory thanks to health and safety regulations. An electric saw, for instance, can produce sounds of over 100 decibels, putting it well over the safe limit.

Enjoying the fireworks

One sudden exposure to a particularly loud noise can be just as dangerous, if not more so, than continuous exposure to slightly less excessive noise. Pretty as they may be, fireworks can produce 150 decibels of noise on average. You can cover your ears at a firework show but wearing a pair of earplugs or earmuffs is much more effective. Firing a weapon at the shooting range is just as loud, but because you are even closer to the source of the noise, it is even more dangerous. For one-time, recreational events, you can easily pick up a pair of cheap, yet highly-effective foam disposable earplugs.

Mowing the lawn

It’s a common summer chore and you might not think twice about it, but using an electric lawn mower can be almost as damaging to your ears as working in construction without the right hearing protection. The average motorized lawnmower weighs in at around 90 decibels, which is still five over the safe limit. If you mow lawns for a living, your risk is even higher since you are exposed to the noise much more regularly. Other electric garden tools like grass trimmers and leaf-blowers can be just as damaging. A simple pair of earmuffs can keep you safe, however.

Surfing on the beach

Not all of the risks are associated with your hearing, either. Exposure to the cold, to the wind and snow can irritate your ears. Water can be even more dangerous, leading to ear infections that can sometimes cause permanent damage. If you’re spending a lot of time outdoors when the weather is bad, or you plan to surf, water-ski or swim, then you should pop in a pair of earplugs first.

If you are regularly in environments with excessive noise or you have a hobby that puts your hearing at risk, make an appointment with your audiologist. Not only can they offer advice on how to protect your hearing, they can examine your current ability to ensure you haven’t done any damage yet.