Every year, the Sight and Hearing Association tests a random selection of toys on the market for the holiday season. This year, they tested 24 toys, 19 of which tested louder than 85 decibels (dB). This is the level where the National Institute of Occupation Health and Safety (NIOSH) mandates hearing protection.
This year’s loudest toy is well known character from the Disney movie, Moana. This model of HeiHei, the chicken, reaches levels of 109.7 dB. The screech, which the authors described as “blood curdling” and “terrifying,” reaches a level that could cause hearing damage in a matter of minutes. Testing was also conducted at a distance equal to the average arm length of a toddler and levels still reached over 90 dB.
The Sight and Hearing Association recommends using a free sound level meter app on smartphones. Although not perfect, it will give you an idea of how loud your child’s toys are. Even easier, if you feel like the toy is too loud for you, it is too loud for your child. They also recommend checking return policies with stores. If a loud toy enters your house this holiday season, you may be able to return it, if you can get it away from your child.
Although most people tend to see audiologists after they have already started noticing hearing difficulties, audiologists also strive to educate the public on protecting their hearing. Back in July, we posted a blog about the different types of hearing protection. Many of these you can buy over the counter, but some custom-made devices need to be fit by an audiologist.
The American Academy of Audiology agrees with OSHA standards in regards to which levels of sound, and for how long, can damage your ears permanently. For instance, repeated or length exposure to sound above 85 decibels (dB) can damage hearing. Average conversation is usually around 60-65 dB, jet engines are typically around 150 dB, and those lawn mowers that people are using without hearing protection are around 85 dB, which is the level at which damage can start. Other recreational activities have high levels of sound that can damage your hearing: shooting a gun (140-175 dB depending on the firearm), concerts (can reach 120 dB), action movies in a theater (100 dB).
According to the American Academy of Audiology, there is an easy way to remember the main ways to protect your hearing: EARS.
The four main ways for protecting your hearing are:
E – earplugs
A – avoid loud sounds
R – reduce the level of sounds
S – shorten time in loud environments
If you have been exposed to this type of noise, even if it was years ago, there is a good chance you have some hearing loss. To schedule a hearing test or an appointment with one of our audiologists to discuss custom hearing protection, call our office at 904-399-0350.
Learn more from the American Academy of Audiology at audiology.org