Fireworks and Noise Exposure

Be Smart, be safe, and protect yourself from the noise

Annual 4th of July summer festivities include barbeques, swimming pools, beaches, sunshie, parades, Red White & Blue, and the 10 pm fireworks display in your local community.   Each year, the fireworks signify the freedom’s our country today enjoys thanks to the sacrifices of the men and women of centuries ago who fought for our freedom.   We honor them today by painting the skies on the 4th.

Care should be given, however, to protect the young and the old from the hazards of overexposure to the noise generated from the blast of the fireworks.   The human ear will feel pain at 120 decibels.   Rock concerts can peak at 140 decibels.  Fireworks will reach 150-175 decibels.  Eardrums can rupture at 160 decibels.  The goal of your safe fireworks festival is to distance yourself, your friends, and your family from the noise and enjoy the show.

So how far is right?  Remember that light travels 670,000,000 miles per hour.   Light can travel around the earth 7.5 times in one second.   But sound travels 760 miles per hour, nearly 1 millionth the speed of light.    So if you do the math, by standing about 3 football fields away from the source of the fireworks, there should be a 3-second delay between hearing the boom and seeing the sky get painted by the explosion of light.    And if there is less than a 3-second differential, you are standing too close to the fireworks.

Noise control can help prevent hearing problems

Tinnitus can result in damage to your hearing drum if you are not careful.   This will generate a life long ringing in the ear, which cannot be undone.   Hearing damage does not heal over time.   So care must be given to distancing yourself from the source of your fireworks.    

As for hand held firecrackers, the danger for hearing loss is also a real possibility.   Not only are you closer to the noise source, but the impact of the explosion can still reach 120 dB in an instant.   The noise exposure is not as bad as the commercial fireworks explosion that paints your skies, but hand held fire crackers represent a real threat.   It takes just one explosion to set off tinnitus, for which there is no cure.  Again, hearing loss cannot be healed over time.

So please, take great care over the 4th, enjoy the celebrations across America as we honor those who fought for our freedoms and independence.    Keep your ear protected, and your eyes on the skies! 

Get your questions on soundproofing answered here

Happy 4th from NetWell Noise Control. For any questions related to hearing protection and noise control, you can reach our soundproofing help desk at 1-800-638-9355 or visit us online at

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