4th of july

Raising a child in Manhattan, I think about noise every day. Specifically, how to keep my kid at a safe distance from the whining sirens, screeching subways and deafening jackhammers that are part and parcel of life in a bustling city.

But apparently, those sounds are nothing compared to the snap, crackle, pop that will take place across the country this weekend. The 4th of July may be one big love letter to patriotism, cookouts and big band music, but it's also hell on our ears. According to the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association, a dazzling fireworks display can register as high as 150 decibels. That's louder than a chainsaw (100 dB), a jet engine taking off (120 dB) and even a jackhammer (130 dB). (P.S. Anything louder than 85 dB can cause permanent hearing loss – in you and your baby.)

Does this mean you should wrap up the party before the sun goes down? Not necessarily. ASHA offers some common-sense-tips so you can enjoy the 4th of July safely:

  • Keep your distance. Protect your fam's precious ears by staying 500 feet (or roughly one and a half football fields) away from the noise.
  • Be mindful of limits. If you think a noise is too loud or going on too long, step away with baby. Far, far away.
  • Cover up. Leave room in the diaper bag for ear protection: ear plugs for you and ear muffs for your babe.

Of course, if you're ever concerned that your kiddo's hearing isn't 100 percent, call your pediatrician. Some signs of hearing loss in young children include a lack of attention to sounds, pulling or scratching at the ears, no response to their name or simple directions, and delays in speech and language development.

Bonnie Gibbs Vengrow is a New York City-based writer and editor who traded in her Blackberry and Metro card for playdates and PB&J sandwiches—and the once-in-a-lifetime chance to watch her feisty, funny son grow up. Follow her on Twitter, Pinterest, and Google+.

Image of fireworks courtesy of Shutterstock