January 25, 2005 at 4:21 PM EST - Updated July 12 at 9:35 AM
The key word in dealing with noise is prevention! We want to eliminate unwanted noise when we can. When noise cannot be eliminated, we want to keep it as low as possible.
Here are some things to do:
Wear hearing protectors when exposed to any loud or potentially damaging noise at work, in the community (heavy traffic, rock concerts, hunting, etc.) or at home (mowing the lawn, snow blowing the driveway, etc.). Cotton in your ears won't work. Hearing protectors include ear muffs and ear plugs (not swimmer's plugs), some that are custom-made and individually molded. This protection can be purchased at drug stores, sporting goods stores or can be custom-made. Check with your audiologist to find out what best suits you.
Limit periods of exposure to noise . Don't sit next to the speakers at concerts, discos, or auditoriums. If you are at a rock concert, walk out for awhile give your ears a break ! If you are a musician, wear ear protection--it is a necessity! Take personal responsibility for your hearing.
Pump down the volume! When using stereo headsets or listening to amplified music in a confined place like a car, turn down the volume. Remember: if a friend can hear the music from your headset when standing three feet away, the volume is definitely too high. Don't be afraid to ask others to turn down the volume.
Educate yourself about the damaging effects of noise and what you can do to prevent your exposure to noise. Educate others and take action! Educate your children through discussion and by example. Wear your ear protection and encourage your children to follow your example. Provide them with ear protection. Remind them to turn down stereo headsets. A rule of thumb is that, if sound from a head set can be heard by others 3 feet away, it is too loud.
Be a responsible consumer . Look for a noise rating when buying recreational equipment, children's toys, household appliances, and power tools. Choose quieter models, especially for equipment that you use often or close to your ears like a hair dryer. If there is no noise rating, contact the manufacturer and ask for one!
Inspect your child's toys for noise danger just as you do for small parts that can cause choking. Remember, too, that children tend to hold toys close to their ear which can pose additional threat for hearing damage.
Parents should not be afraid to let their instincts guide them in requesting or independently arranging for further evaluation whenever they are concerned about their children' s health or development.