You want your kids to be safe and healthy … you brush their teeth, wrestle them into seatbelts, and use hand sanitizer like it’s going out of style. But what are you doing to protect their ears? Excess noise can hurt kids’ long-term hearing. Being exposed to everyday noises, such as listening to loud music, being in a band, attending sporting events, or riding a dirt bike, can lead to hearing loss over time. You can minimize the damage by teaching your children to protect their ears in loud situations.
Encourage your children to use hearing protection when they are exposed to noise that is too loud or lasts too long. The louder the sound, the quicker hearing damage will occur. Hearing protectors don’t block out all noise — they limit the level of sound and make things more quiet.
When to Use Hearing Protectors for Kids
- When attending loud events in stadiums, gymnasiums, amusement parks, theaters, auditoriums, and other entertainment facilities.
- When visiting auto races, sporting events, and music concerts, including symphonies and rock concerts.
- If riding a snowmobile, all-terrain vehicle, or farm tractor.
- When participating in shooting sports. Hearing protectors should be a standard part of shooting-safety gear as noise from a gunshot can damage your child’s hearing immediately and permanently.
Types of Hearing Protectors
Earplugs: Earplugs come in either soft foam or hard plastic inserts that fit directly into the ear canal. Earplugs can be less expensive than earmuffs, and come in both disposable and reusable options. They are easy to carry around in a purse or pocket. Some even come with a neck strap so that your child won’t lose one if it falls out. The soft foam reshapes itself to fill your ear canal, but the silicone, rubber, or plastic plugs need to have a more exact fit.
Earmuffs: Earmuffs often look like wireless headphones. The part that fits over the ear is filled with fluid, foam, or both. Earmuffs often cost more than earplugs, but they are easier for young children to wear correctly. Check to make sure the earmuffs are not too loose for your child’s head. If your child wears glasses, check to make sure the earmuffs seal properly over the glasses and are not uncomfortable.
How can you help kids be willing to use ear protection? Start by discussing whether they would rather wear earplugs that can be hidden by hair or a hat, or make a fashion statement with more noticeable hearing protectors. Fun and fashionable styles of hearing protection are available in stores and online. Make sure that earmuffs are within easy reach. Keep them visible and handy. Hearing protectors in a drawer won’t do any good.
When hearing protectors aren’t an option, cover your ears with your hands, lower the volume, or move away from the noise. By teaching your children about hearing protectors and why and when they are needed, you can empower your them to make smart decisions that can protect their hearing now and in the future.