What do you call a duck who likes watching fireworks? A firequacker.
What do you get if you cross a stegosaurus with a firework? Dino-mite…
(aaahhhh I'm a sucker for a punny joke)
Are you jazzed for the 4th of July, or what!??! I know we are! This will be our little guy's first 4th of July - even though he was due July 3rd of last year and we thought we might have an Independence Baby, he hung in there until mid-July! Whew! I am glad I'm not waddling around on the 4th with swollen ankles like I was last year.
Anyhow. I know we're all excited for BBQ's, camping trips, beach days, hiking and all the fun stuff the 4th brings us - but my favorite by far is the fireworks. I love a good fireworks show! But....
FIREWORKS ARE LOUD.
Ok. Obviously. We all know this. For some people, the loudness is part of the excitement factor - the louder, the better! BUT - did you know that if you're sitting too close to the blasts without hearing protection, there's a risk for immediate, sudden, and permanent hearing loss? And because children have much better hearing than adults, they are especially vulnerable to hearing damage from fireworks.
Fireworks can be up to 150-175 decibels - and the World Health Organization recommends the maximum safe decibel level for adults is 140 decibels, and for children only 120 decibels. And - infants should not be exposed to any fireworks. I will repeat: Infants should not be exposed to fireworks at all; an infant’s ear canal is much smaller than an older child's or an adult's, so the sound pressure entering the ear is greater. What might not sound that loud to an adult actually sounds up to 20 decibels louder to an infant.
**NERD ALERT** Why are the fireworks so loud in the first place? It all comes down to the chemical reaction that happens after the fuse is lit. The burning gunpowder releases hot gas that expands rapidly; when the gas expands to the point that it runs out of room within the firework, the resulting explosion causes a blast wave. The vibrations from that blast wave have the potential to cause permanent damage to the delicate hair cells of the inner ear.
The bottom line is that that hearing loss can occur from exposure to any sound over 85 decibels, so it makes sense to take steps to protect your hearing this 4th of July.
So let's get to it - what do you need to know about kids and fireworks?
1. wear headphones
Ok - this one is pretty much a no brainer, so I won't be offended if you skip this part and scroll down (especially because there is a fabulous picture of me cleaning below that I wouldn't mind you missing haha).
Noise-reducing headphones reduce the noise level by 20-30 dB, so while they help, you do still have to be careful because they doesn't actually bring the noise level down enough for a small child if they are standing very close to a fireworks display. (The math: if fireworks are a minimum of 150 dB close up, then these bring it down to 120-130 dB = still TOO LOUD for even minimal exposure).
The headphones we own are the Baby Banz brand and not only do they have lots of adorable designs, but they seem to be really comfy - our guy is happy to leave them on for as long as needed. He's worn them while awake, and for many hours at a time while asleep. They fit kids 3 months and up.
I don't have personal experience with any other brands, but there's a ton of other cute options out there - here's a list from Tech News Central on the Top 5 Noise-Reducing Headphones for children.
2. Watch from a little further away
The American Speech-Language-Hearing Association recommends sitting at least 500 feet from where the fireworks are launched. Fireworks noise for spectators 800 feet away ranges from 88 to 126 dB. But from 10 feet away, it’s 155 dB—louder than a military jet takeoff!
To be safe: sit at least 1.5 football fields away from the launching point - or better yet, 2 football fields away. Better safe than sorry.
A good tip: if you can feel the vibrations from the fireworks, you are sitting too close and need to move your family further away.
3. Pick "quieter" fireworks if you're celebrating at home
Maybe you can tell from this article, or maybe you know me - but the truth is, I'm pretty "risk adverse" (as my husband calls it). And I was basically an only child growing up, so I didn't have much exposure to setting off fireworks. The truth is, they scare me. I don't want to let off my own fireworks - and of course, all the "risk adverse" experts recommend attending a community fireworks display rather than setting off your own fireworks at home
BUT - if you're going to do it, know a couple facts:
4. last, and definitely not least - remember that fireworks can be super **SCARY** for your little one!
Aside from the extreme volume of fireworks, seeing a all those lights in the sky could be scary for a toddler - and fireworks shows typically come with crowds, which can be anxiety-inducing for some kiddos. Since you don't know how your little one will react to the show, try exposing your child gradually:
But toddlers aren't the only ones we need to consider - there are lots of preschoolers and school-aged children out there that have never attended a fireworks show before, or that are regularly sensitive to noise. If this is the case, you'll need to make plans for them as well, such as noise-reducing headphones for anxiety, earbuds with their own music, watching from far away, or alternate plans entirely (see below).
If you have kiddos that are sensitive to noise or lots of people, perhaps there are other ways to celebrate the day, without the fireworks. Pinwheels or sparklers (under parent supervision) are a festive and special treat. Or, how about decorating the house, bike, or car with red, white, and blue streamers and balloons? Participate in the local parade or a neighborhood barbecue. There are many ways to make the day special without a fireworks display.
If you're wondering if taking your kids to 4th of July fireworks is the right move for you, take it slow and ease into the action. If things go well — great. You'll be making it a tradition. But if things go south, you can have an escape plan ready and enjoy the show on TV from the comfort of your couch. Either way, you'll be making Independence Day memories with your child, and that's what matters most.