Just as you teach your children to wear sunscreen, use a seat belt and wear a bicycle helmet, teach them to wear hearing protectors to limit noise exposure. Here are a few tips:
- Set clear rules for when hearing protectors should be worn. Tell your children that you expect them to wear hearing protectors in noisy areas, even when you aren’t there to supervise. For example, is your child in the school band or going riding on a dirt bike? It’s time for your child to put on hearing protectors.
- Shop for hearing protectors with them. Discuss with your children whether they would rather wear earplugs that can be hidden by hair or a hat, or make a fashion statement with more noticeable hearing protectors. Many colorful and comfortable styles of hearing protectors are available in stores and online.
- Choose hearing protectors that fit in with your children’s daily activities. If your children play in a band or orchestra, earplugs can help protect their hearing. Special musicians’ earplugs (often called high fidelity ear plugs) are available so that your children can hear instruments clearly, but at a softer level. You can also find hearing protectors designed specifically for hunting or shooting sports.
- Make sure hearing protection is within reach. Keep hearing protection devices in areas that are within easy reach of your children. Hearing protectors that are hidden in a drawer and aren’t worn will not do any good.
When to Use Hearing Protectors
Hearing protectors limit the level of sound. They do not block out all noise — they just make noise softer. Use hearing protectors when you or your children are exposed to noise that is too loud or lasts too long. The louder the sound, the quicker hearing damage will occur.
Children should use hearing protectors when:
- Attending loud events in stadiums, gymnasiums, amusement parks, theaters, auditoriums and other entertainment facilities.
- Attending auto races, sporting events and music concerts of all types, including symphonies and rock concerts.
- Riding a snowmobile, all-terrain vehicle or farm tractor.
- Participating in shooting sports. The sound of a gunshot can reach the same level as a jet engine at takeoff. At this decibel level, noise can damage your child’s hearing immediately and permanently. Hearing protectors should be a standard part of shooting-safety gear.