In the same way we use a thermometer to measure dangerous temperatures, we use our sound levels chart to gauge how dangerous a sound source has become. As the loudness or intensity increases, the amount of time we can safely spend near the sound decreases. For some of the most intense sounds, there is no safe amount of exposure!
Too much loud sound can be dangerous, even from something we love.
It’s easy to recognize dangerous sound when we recognize it as noise, such as the roar of a plane when it flies overhead. It's much more difficult to consider sound safety when it’s something we enjoy, like loud music or the roar of a jet ski.
In the same way we take steps to protect our teeth by brushing them or use sunscreen to protect our skin outdoors, hearing protection should be a growing part of our daily health routine. The thermometer above shows that as the level of sound grows the safe amount of time spent listening to it decreases. In this way, sound can be measured as a daily dose – a maximum exposure per day. For example, if you spend one hour listening to an intense sound, like a rock band playing live music, you may want to take steps to make the rest of your day relatively quiet. In this way, you can still enjoy the sounds you love without compromising your ears’ ability to do their job. Your daily dose of sound has not been exceeded.
Three steps to maintain one’s daily dose:
1. Step away from loud sounds.
Even a few extra feet between you and the source can help.
2. Limit the time spent around loud sounds.
Alternating periods of quiet with periods of exposure can give your ears precious time to recover.
3. Use hearing protection devices such as earplugs or earmuffs to decrease the overall level of sound getting into your ears.
Some are even specially designed to use when listening to music!
Finally, use our handy rule of thumb to know when you’re potentially exposed: if you need to raise your voice to be heard by a person an arm’s reach away, chances are the sound is too loud!