How to Protect Your Hearing this Bonfire Night

It’s the 5th of November, which means only one thing! The brilliant bonfires and fantastic fireworks have been prepped and are ready to paint the skies with their cocktails of colours. 

Not sure how to protect your hearing this weekend? Read on for advice from our experts.

Before We Begin: How Loud Are Fireworks?

Fireworks over Tower BridgeDid you know that fireworks can reach anywhere between 140-175 dB? That’s the same as standing under a jet plane as it’s taking off.

Exposure to these excessive noise levels over even a short period can lead to temporary or permanent hearing loss and tinnitus. Under The Control of Noise at Work Regulations, anyone working at a fireworks display should be wearing hearing protection to prevent immediate nerve damage.

Through noise pollution, fireworks also affect those not attending displays. The constant whizzing, popping and banging can disrupt sleep, frighten vulnerable people and cause stress. Domestic and wild animals also suffer, which can cause them to become agitated, aggressive and destructive.

Top Tips for Protecting Your Hearing

When it comes to protecting your hearing at a fireworks display, there are 2 recommended options.

  1. Stand further away

It might sound obvious, but moving further away can greatly decrease the sound levels you are exposed to. The minimum distance for adults is between 15-20 metres, whereas as children should be 50-60 metres away from the display. You can also appreciate the overall display more from a distance.

  1. Use hearing protection

Have you been to a fireworks display and left with a rushing or ringing sensation in your ears? Do ordinary sounds seem muffled or are quieter than normal? If so, that is a sign you’ve been exposed to damaging sound levels and should wear hearing protection in future. Ear plugs and headphones can block excessive noise from reaching the inner ear, where it causes the most damage.

What Does the Law Say?

We do have extra protection in the UK thanks to The Fireworks Regulations 2004. This prohibits the supply of any Category 3 Firework that exceeds 120 dB. Organisers also have a set of guidelines for measuring firework noise:

(a) At a horizontal distance of fifteen metres from the testing point at a height of one metre above the ground; and

(b) Using a sound measuring device which conforms to type 1 of BS EN 61672 with a free-field microphone

However you decide to celebrate this weekend, we hope that you do so safely, and have a cracking time!

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