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Know your decibels! Ten of the loudest sounds out there

25 October 2018

As the country prepares to celebrate the bonfire night, national charity Action on Hearing Loss has compiled a list of some of the loudest sounds out there.

  • 230 dB – Sperm whale
  • 180 dB – Rocket launch
  • 120 dB – Fireworks
  • 110 dB – Live gig
  • 100 dB – Night club
  • 97 dB – Fire alarm
  • 94 dB – Lawnmower
  • 88 dB – Heavy traffic
  • 85 dB – Food blender
  • 75 dB – Hoovering

Gemma Twitchen Senior Audiologist at Action on Hearing Loss explained: “Every day we expose our ears to heavy traffic, kitchen appliances and live music, but most people do not know what is deemed safe and what can be potentially damaging to your hearing.

Loudness of a sound is measured in decibels (dB) and experts agree that exposure to noise at or above 85 dB can damage hearing over time. Safe listening levels also depend on how loud, long and frequent the exposure – the louder the sound, the less the exposure time should be.

While you are unlikely to come across a rocket launch or sperm whale, people will almost certainly be attending firework displays on Bonfire Night this November 5. As a firework display averages around a staggering 120dB, this means that just a few seconds of standing too close to fireworks can potentially cause permanent hearing damage, such as noise-induced hearing loss or tinnitus.”

There are some simple steps we can take to protect our hearing from the cacophony of fireworks, such as:

  • Keep a good distance from the source of the noise – such as fireworks or speaker systems.
  • Take regular breaks to limit the time exposed to the loud noise – limiting the time exposed to the noise will reduce the risk of permanent damage.
  • Wear noise-cancelling earplugs to cancel out the dangerous sound frequencies – these earplugs protect your hearing without reducing the sound quality (plus they’re invisible and reusable!)
  • Ensure that children use ear defenders – ear defenders are comfortable and avoid the fuss of children inserting and removing earplugs
  • Stay hydrated – dehydration can make the hair cells in your inner ear more vulnerable to damage so make sure to drink plenty of water.

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Notes to editors

Action on Hearing Loss (formerly RNID) is the national charity helping people living with deafness, tinnitus and hearing loss to live the life they choose. Action on Hearing Loss enables them to take control of their lives and remove the barriers in their way, giving people support and care, developing technology and treatments, and campaigning for equality.

Listen to this stimulation to hear what tinnitus sounds like

More information on hearing protection