Sarnia is a community of hardworking people who know the value of a good day’s work and some well-earned R&R. With that in mind, we wanted to take a few moments for a word of caution: our minds and muscles are not the only parts of us that need a break now and then. Your ears get stressed out too, and just like the rest of you, they need a chance to rest and recover.
Noise induced hearing loss is the only truly preventable form. Especially in our area of heavy industry, we might be tempted to think that noise induced hearing loss is strictly a workplace problem, and of course, we should all be concerned with safety on the job. Following safety guidelines and always wearing our PPE will mitigate much of the potential for traumatic hearing loss.
However, the workplace is not the only area where potentially damaging noise levels exist. Any noises above 85 decibels will cause damage if the exposure is long enough. Some examples of common noises that exceed 85 decibels are heavy traffic, loud music (either with headphones or in the confined space of a car), movies, passing motorcycles, and power tools. Since many of our hobbies may include some of these sources of noise, we need to be careful about our ears during leisure time as well.
The key here is remembering that it is not simply the volume of the noise that counts, but also the frequency and duration of the noise. For example, let’s say you come home from an eight hour work day in which proper care limited your noise exposure to the legal limit of 8 hours at 85 decibels. Then, you turn up some music or blow off steam in the workshop. It’s a great way to relax, but adding extra time to your noise exposure can start damaging your hearing. What’s the takeaway? Give your ears a rest.
We all need to take breaks from the busy, often chaotic, lives we lead. Your ears are no different. So even in your personal activities, pay attention to the noise you are exposing yourself to and consider giving your ears the break they need.