Hearing is one of the most important senses a person can have since it not only assists us in our daily activities, but also improves our quality of life. One of the things that can cause lasting damage to our hearing is exposure to high intensities of noise. Based on studies, 140 decibel of noise can subject the human ear to lifelong irreversible hearing loss. This is something that needs to become taken seriously especially for those who are constantly exposed to loud sounds such as gun and firearms enthusiasts, because on average, the lowest intensity a small gun produces is coincidentally 140 decibel as well. To help shooters avoid this horrible damage, it is important to have an adequate ear protection. Usually, there are two options, the earplugs and ear muffs.
Which is greater?
“Earplugs are either disposable or reusable and are cheaper than earmuffs!” says wearplug.com. The disposable ones are typically made of foam and are easy on the wallet, while the reusable variety is from rubber. However, it offers lesser support to the ears and is uncomfortable for some users because it is literally plugged inside the ear canal. It is also prone to being misplaced because it is relatively small. Ear muffs are definitely the better choice for consumers since it has more options and designs to suit your needs. It is more convenient since it can easily be removed or adjusted if the noise becomes too unbearable. Although it is more expensive, it has a longer life span than the average ear plugs and requires little maintenance.
Types of Ear Muffs
There are two kinds of earmuffs: Traditional and Electronic. The first one is the classic model that offers higher protection than the electronic types and is more cost-effective especially if you are on a tight budget but want something more than ear plugs. This type usually has a superior Noise Reduction Rating (NRR), which means it gives greater protection to its users because it blocks out all loud noises. Traditional or passive ear muffs work simply by acting as a barrier. Depending on your preference, you can choose from different styles based on which is more convenient for you. Most people want the behind-the-neck type against the over-the-head and cap-mounted models because it is useful with a hat.
Electronic ear muffs basically provide the same features of a traditional ear muff except for the fact that it has more options for its users. As mentioned earlier, passive ear muffs block external sound, but the electronic ones can now make you hear normal conversational noise levels. In this case, the product can distinguish between safe and dangerous sounds so the moment it detects a potentially damaging level, it shuts these noises down to make sure that your hearing is not harmed. This is a particularly amazing feature because it allows you to become aware of your surroundings and multitask instead of being completely oblivious to what is happening around you. This is truly handy for hunting and military operations as it tends to amplify low-level sounds through a microphone and an amplifier. Earlier and cheaper models tend to just shut off completely when it detects a dangerous level and takes some time before it turns back on. With more advanced and high-end versions, the electronic components inside does not turn off the sound, but rather changes it into a more acceptable level. It is very useful because it does not leave the person unaware and clueless. Another feature of newer ear muffs is that it has an increased directional sensitivity. In other words, you can now become more mindful about which direction the sounds are coming from, something that is missing in the previous models. Finally, the volumes are adjustable to a certain degree so you can have the freedom to decide according to your comfort level without compromising your safety.
Both types of ear protection are helpful in its own way. Nevertheless, it is necessary for you to become sensible of the condition that you will be facing so that you can decide which one can serve you better. Some people prefer using the ear plugs and ear muffs all together especially if they know they will become exposed to higher intensities of noise. This is actually a practical idea if you want to meet maximum safety standards since this is double the protection that each device gives. In the end, vigilance is a must if you want to preserve the second most important sense that you have.
Noise-cancelling Headphones for Children
Children are more susceptible to hearing damage compared to adults due to their increased sensitivity to sound. They are less aware and concerned of these circumstances that are detrimental to their well-being. Parents and guardians should also become mindful of the negative effects of too much noise to their children’s growth and development. There are plenty of situations where children are exposed to dangerous noise levels that adults may not be aware of, thus it is important to provide them with adequate protection. One effective way of doing so is through the use of noise-cancelling headphones, which comes in two varieties.
The first one is the passive type which is more affordable and has simpler characteristics. It is made of materials such as rubber and foam that acts as a physical barrier between the ear and external sounds from the environment. In short, it heavily relies on its composition and does nothing but block the noise out from your child’s ear, like a seal or an ear plug, hence the term passive. It reduces around 20 decibel of noise by average.
Meanwhile, the second and more popular type is the active noise-cancelling headphones. Unlike the passive kind which only acts as soundproofing, this one contains electronics inside the product which has the capacity to counteract the noise being detected by a built-in microphone. These electronic chips tend to copy the sound wave and frequency of external noises but in an opposing way, causing these to be cancelled out. This mechanism can not only reduce disturbing loud noises, it can also improve the audio quality coming from the headphones which is why it also comes at a greater price. Another advantage of the active type is that because of its technology, lower volumes are needed to produce an audible sound which is beneficial to your child’s ears. High-end products can minimize up to 31 decibel of sound on top of its passive sound-reduction capability, the most optimal reduction available in the market. Most of the time, these models are battery-operated because it requires energy to perform its function properly.
When and where to use it
There are a lot of scenarios where children may use noise-canceling headphones. Places like airports, jets, dining areas, malls, and concert halls are just few examples of where children should be protected from hearing loss. Most of the time, normal activities that can cause potential damage tend to go unnoticed by adults due to decreased sensitivity to dangerous levels. Parents have to always remember that any event that causes disturbance such as large crowds or busy streets should be a cause for concern. Headphones can also aid children with school and extra-curricular activities as it can help minimize distractions and improve their concentration. They can learn better and acquire more valuable skills for the future. Children with developmental problems and hypersensitivity to noise require assistance when dealing with these nuisances. They are best situated in a calm and quiet environment to avoid being agitated and lose focus on their tasks without totally shutting off the person communicating with them.
While all of the above mentioned details are note-worthy, it is also essential for parents to educate their children about the disadvantages of exposure to extremely loud noises and the benefits of using noise-canceling headphones. When choosing headphones, it must be appropriate for your child’s age and should fit snugly on the ears. It may become a challenge to make your child use this equipment, but with proper education and training, it becomes less of an ordeal as the days go by. Children can be given more options and freedom to choose the designs or styles that they want for their headphones to make them interested in using them. Children usually mimic the actions of their parents, so one good way to inspire them is by being role models and protecting yourself from hearing damage as well. Not only are your children encouraged, you are also taking care of your health.