Have you ever talked to someone who’s spent some time in a sensory deprivation chamber? In some cases, they’ve been known to trigger severe anxiety and depression, among other problems, within minutes. As a human being, our senses are really all that we have when it comes to experiencing the world around us. Seeing, hearing, tasting, smelling, and touching are the gateways to our environment. So naturally, we don’t want to lose them.
We tend to overlook the worry of damaging our senses, however, especially early in life. Some people smoke, damaging their ability to taste and smell. Others look carelessly at the sun, causing damage to precious eyesight.
But the sense that is perhaps most overlooked is that of hearing. Once the damage is done, it won’t come back, so the best way to preserve your ears is to be mindful of what you’re exposing them to. And even noises that might not seem so bad can be very harmful over time. Here are a few of the most common culprits to watch out for.
How can it be? Sweet, sweet music? The louder you listen to music, the more damage you’re likely causing. Ever leave a rock concert with your ears ringing? Unfortunately, that’s a sign of damage. Those fans in the crowd wearing earplugs are one step ahead of everyone else. An MP3 player at full volume is shooting 105 decibels directly into your ears—well over the standard safety threshold of 75.
How ironic is it that vehicles used solely to help others can cause hearing loss to those around them? Of course, loud sirens are necessary to announce the approach of an emergency vehicle. There is a 120-200db rating at 100 feet from the sirens. Ultimately, it’s a case of the lesser of two evils. Besides, you’re really only at risk when the sirens are blaring nearby, so roll the car windows up or cover your ears when that happens.
Most types of engines, from a chainsaw to a motorcycle to a lawnmower, are louder than the safe 75-decibel limit. In fact, even keeping your window open on the highway can damage hearing over time. Ever hear of “trucker’s ear”? That’s when a truck driver loses hearing in their left ear from being on the road so much with their window down.
This is the big one, and perhaps the most obvious. The noise emitted from an ignited firecracker or a discharged gun tops the list at 150 decibels—twice the safe limit. Because these “bangs” are relatively short, they are often overlooked and inadequately protected against.
In each case, the best thing you can do is to invest in top quality ear protection that will minimize damage. In the case of loud gunshots, ESP analog and digital hearing protection is the unmatched choice for the serious shooter.