Summer is here! And so are the fireworks, concerts, music festivals, motorized sports, and more.

It’s a great time for fun. But it’s also extremely important to be smart about protecting your hearing.

Remember, the single bang of a firecracker at close range can permanently damage hearing in an instant. And any sounds at or above 85 dBA for a prolonged period of time can be unsafe.

“Temporary” hearing loss after loud events and activities quickly adds up, with repeat noise exposure leading to permanent hearing loss—and there’s no cure for that.

Millennials and teens especially should think twice. Data analyzed by the World Health Organization (WHO) indicate that among these age groups (12 to 35 years), nearly 50 percent are exposed to unsafe levels of sound from the use of personal audio devices, and around 40 percent are exposed to potentially damaging levels of sound at entertainment venues. And teens are increasingly experiencing tinnitus—which tends to be a symptom of hearing loss—according to a study published in Scientific Reports.

But you can have fun and be “hearing smart” at the same time.

Here is BHI’s shortlist of six easy hacks for protecting your hearing:

  1. Use earplugs. When you know you’ll be around loud sounds, use earplugs. Disposable earplugs, made of foam or silicone, are carried by many local pharmacies. They’re practical because you can still hear music and conversation when they’re in your ears. But when they fit snugly, they help block out dangerously loud sounds. In fact, one study, carried out in conjunction with an outdoor music festival in Amsterdam, found that festival-goers who wore earplugs were about five times less likely to have some temporary hearing loss than those who didn’t wear them. The earplug-users also were less likely to experience ringing in the ears (tinnitus) afterwards.
  2. Be smart celebrating the 4th of July. Leave the fireworks to the professionals. And when watching the show, stay a safe distance away—where you can enjoy the colors and lights but not expose yourself and your family to the loud sounds. Wear earplugs, and make sure they’re securely in place before the show begins. Also, keep them in for the entire show.
    Walk away and plug your ears. If a loud noise takes you by surprise, quickly plug your ears with your fingers and walk away. Increasing the distance between you and the source of the sound helps reduce the intensity (or decibels) at which the sound reaches your ears.
  3. Limit your time in noisy environments. Do all you can to limit the length of time you spend in a noisy environment. When you do participate in noisy activities, alternate them with periods of quiet, to give your ears a rest. And remember to use ear protection.
  4. Turn it down. When listening to smartphones and audio electronics, keep them at a low volume. And be sure to limit your use of headphones and ear buds. Remember, it’s not just the volume that matters. It’s also the amount of time spent listening.
  5. Visit your local hearing healthcare professional for custom-fit ear protection and a hearing test. A hearing healthcare professional can provide a hearing test to determine your baseline hearing level and determine if you have any hearing loss that should be addressed. Hearing care professionals also can provide custom ear protection to ensure a proper fit. You also can take the free, confidential, online BHI Hearing Check at to determine if you need a comprehensive hearing test by a hearing healthcare professional. The BHI Hearing Check prompts you through a series of questions in just a few quick minutes.

Article originally posted at Better Hearing Institute.