Hearing Loss Prevention: At Home YOU are the Expert
Safety training? Pay it forward
Hearing practices that are learned during on-the-job Safety Training translate very well to the home front. Mother Nature does not care where the ear-killing din comes from. The bottom line is that repeated exposures to excessive sound levels lead to permanent inner-ear and nerve damage that so far cannot be fixed. And so, the consequences of noise-induced damage last for a lifetime. One does not want to have that happen to kids.
So, in the interest of the children and young people in the family, pay forward what you know. It is the right thing to do. The earlier children learn about safe listening practices from you, the better it will be! After all, they have just started on the journey called Life and deserve a chance.
Good questions lead to productive discussions
Adults and children alike take their hearing for granted. Ask the kids for examples of how hearing helps them every day, such as when having fun; when learning new things; for being safe from injuries etc. How would life change if their hearing faded away? Children must know that taking their hearing seriously is for their own benefit.
The message is that loud sound can hurt ears forever. Speech and music become dull. One has trouble understanding one’s friends. This is why it is important to pay attention to the volume on MP3 players and video games. Explain the 60/60 rule.
Fortunately, children tend to have a better appreciation of the basics of quality of life than adults do. It is always amazing how many insightful questions they have. Also, this discussion might teach them some empathy for peers with hearing challenges.
Demonstrate Hearing Safety!
Practice what you teach. Be consistent with the use of hearing protection ─ the way you are on-the-job when it is loud. Turn the volume on the home entertainment center down. When working with power tools and machinery at home, use hearing protection. When mowing the lawn or plowing the snow, use hearing protection. Remind the kids why you do so. Before setting out for a loud event, such as fireworks or a concert, take hearing protection inventory so that everybody’s ears will be safe.
Earplugs or ear muffs?
Check with the doctor or audiologist which type is best based on the children’s ages and ear-and-hearing health histories.
Get the kids involved
Let children listen through ear muffs so that they can appreciate the difference in volume. The ears are loving it! Noise-reducing headphones cut ambient sound and allow for listening to music or games at lower settings. If earplugs are the choice, show how to apply them correctly.
Have kids participate in choosing hearing protection for themselves. But do some research. Not all products are alike or deliver what they advertise. Online customer comments and product review sites often provide helpful tips.
The message is that Protecting the ears from excess noise is cool and savvy. I will always give kudos to actress Gwyneth Paltrow for showing her kids with colorful ear muffs whenever they went to see their dad, Chris Martin at a music event. The pictures send a clear Prevention message: Loud sound exposures harm ears and we do not let that happen.
And so, apply the Hearing Safety strategies that you learn at work to your family. Children do not know what is harmful to them and why – but parents do. When it comes to noise-induced hearing loss prevention at home, YOU are the role model and the expert!
For industry Safety Training or presentations on Noise-induced Hearing Loss Prevention, please email [email protected]
To learn more about ears and hearing, please see my book on hearing loss: What Did You Say? An Unexpected Journey into the World of Hearing Loss, now in its second updated edition. Sharing my story and what I had to learn the hard way. Also on Kindle.