Protecting your hearing

The Indispensable Festival Guide

published: Tue 8th Nov 2011

Lovebox Crowd (Saturday)

Each summer, over 3 million of people will go to a festival, with over 600 to choose from in the UK alone.

With the festival season upon us, the following are obvious essential survival items: Sun cream, sunglasses, bikini, waterproofs and wellies - all offering protection against the elements, but one very important item that many people tend to overlook is Hearing Protection.

Sound volumes easily exceed 85dB at concerts, which is the level at which serious ear damage can set in. Tinnitus, which is a constant, painful ringing in the ears making it difficult to sleep and causing dizziness and loss of equilibrium, is just one problem which can very quickly occur at these levels and is irreversible.

Arena concerts and clubs can produce dangerously high volumes of sound easily exceeding 85dB, which can seriously damage hearing. 90 per cent of people have experienced serious signs of hearing damage after just ONE night out according to Action On Hearing Loss. Ringing in your ears or dull sound is a sign of damage, which can lead to long-term problems, which is why DJ's and musicians such as Eddie Halliwell, Judge Jules, Feeder, U2 etc all wear specialist custom made musicians hearing protection.

A survey by the charity Action on Hearing Loss has revealed that most people don't have a clue what tinnitus is. The study asked 1000 people what tinnitus is and 39 per cent of people said that they didn't know. A further 22 per cent said they thought it was an allergy to metal and 11 people thought it was a repetitive strain injury.

Tinnitus is a ringing in the ears which can be brought on from listening to loud music at festivals and gigs or through mp3 players. Action on Hearing Loss, formerly RNID, conducted the survey as part of its campaign to raise awareness among music lovers to look after their ears by wearing hearing protection such as earplugs when listening to loud music at gigs and festivals.

A staggering 56 per cent had hurt their ears at a live concert because the music was so loud. But only 33 per cent have ever worn earplugs or tried other forms of hearing protection.

Lovebox Crowd (Saturday)
If you are standing for prolonged periods of time near the barrier at festivals within close proximity to the speaker stacks, you are putting your hearing at risk and you should consider protecting your ears and especially those of children.

The sound at big festivals can reach 110dB, that is seriously loud. It is like listening to a jet engine taking off, for longer than 15 mins it can cause serious hearing damage. The small hair sensors in your ear canal get damaged, amphibians and birds can grow them back but not humans, once it's gone it has definitely gone.

There are numerous solutions available from proper ear defenders for small children, disposable foam ear buds from chemists such as Boots through to specialist hearing protection and custom made personal earplugs.

At many festivals there are foam ear plugs available from dispensers beside the front barrier, during quiet periods between sets, it's often possible to ask a nearby member of security if they could hand you a pair.

If you are one of those music fans that likes to be up close to the bands all day, it is worth purchasing your own ear protection.

These can be ready to wear, one size fits all, high fidelity ear plugs that replicate the ear's natural frequency response, meaning they protect the ear against dangerously high levels of noise, but do not muffle voices and the surrounding environment at all. Enabling the user to protect their ears, but still fully enjoy the music and atmosphere of the festival with no noise hangover the next day.

If you are going to be in front of the PA stacks at any festival, even the smaller ones, you will be exposed to extreme noise levels, and you should remember to give your ears a break.

If you've watched one band from right in front of the PA, try watching the next one from by the mixing position. Remember if you are determined to spend all day right by the speaker stacks to wear ear plugs.

Follow eFestivals' advice and make sure you pop some protection – ear protection – in your festival kit.


Useful links:


festival information by: Scott Williams




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