Firework shops across the country are seeing an increase in sales, which they attribute to the cancellation of larger firework displayed for the Fourth of July as well as COVID cabin fever. While fireworks are banned in most cities in King, Pierce and Snohomish counties, this does not mean they won’t be set off. Experts warn this is not only illegal, it could put your hearing at risk.
Cancellations Fueling Firework Purchases
Last year there were more than two dozen firework displays from Everett to Tacoma, including Seattle’s biggest celebration at the Seafair Summer Fourth in Gs Works Park. According to Marshal Robert Wittenberg, a Washington Deputy State Fire Marshal, “With the COVID pandemic and social-distancing requirements, what we’re seeing is a lot of community fireworks events are being canceled.”
Unfortunately, people are looking to fill this void and experts are anticipating an increase in private sales, purchases and use.
“We’re aware that there’s probably going to be more private demonstrations, discharges and use of fireworks,” Wittenberg said. “We’re asking people to follow the purchase and discharge time periods that are mandated by state law. Buy them from a retail stand that is licensed and permitted and only use those in the areas.”
Visit the Washington State Patrol’s website to see the firework laws in your city.
Fireworks can harm the delicate hair cells in your inner ear and permanently damage your hearing in an instant. The explosion is caused by a chemical reaction between gunpowder and a mix of different metals to get the vivid colors. When lit, the gunpowder begins to release a hot gas that rapidly expands. Once the gas fills the canister, it explodes, creating a blast wave. The vibrations from this wave can cause noise induced hearing loss.
Sounds are measured in decibels (dB); anything over 85 dB can cause damage to your hearing. Fireworks have the potential to measure 150 to 175 dB at close range.
Maintaining a safe distance from the firework display is crucial. Experts recommend standing at least 500 feet away. This gives you a good view without putting your ears at risk. If you must sit closer, always wear hearing protection. Foam earplugs from your local pharmacy will work in a pinch, but earmuffs and custom-made earplugs will provide superior protection.
Leave the fireworks up to the professionals. If you are planning on buying your own, the best thing to do is go with the quieter options. Fountains, wheels, falling leaves and comets crackle and whistle rather than create one loud explosion. Avoid rockets, mines and any firework that has multiple blasts strung tightly together, as these are designed to create as much noise as possible.
To learn more about protecting your hearing or to schedule a hearing test with an expert, contact Evergreen Speech & Hearing Inc today.