The winter holidays are the time of year for giving and sharing! The holidays provide many opportunities to spend time with family and friends and enjoy some festive cheer. Perhaps you’ll see a local holiday musical or performance or participate in a holiday gift exchange. As you prepare to wrap (or unwrap) those gifts, it’s important to consider if that noisy toy could actually be a hazard. Ever thought about how those concerts and new toys and gadgets might affect your hearing?
The U.S. Public Interest Research Group (PIRG) has found toys on store shelves that produce sounds loud enough to contribute to hearing damage over time, including music players and toys that are intended to be held close to the ear. Read the full U.S. PIRG report. During the holidays, make sure to consider the noise levels of toys for children and follow these simple tips to help keep the noise down:
- Pack hearing protectors, such as earplugs or ear muffs, if you’re attending a local seasonal concert or other festivities. Musical events can register at or over 120 decibels—that’s roughly as loud as an ambulance siren.
- Did one of your children get a new noisy toy? If the racket is driving you crazy, it may be too loud. Consider putting masking or packing tape over the toy’s speaker. This should muffle the sound enough to make it safe for everyone. Some toys have volume controls to lower the volume or turn off the sound completely.
- Buy quiet gifts. Look for toys or gadgets with low-volume settings or ones that make no noise at all, such as books or puzzles.
- Test out toys in the store before buying them to check sound levels. Ask yourself, “Is this too loud?” If so, find another toy with a softer sound. Also ask, “Can I control the volume on the toy and maintain a lower level of noise output?”
- Limit “screen time” to cut back on noise. Televisions, tablet computers, and video games contribute to high sound levels in the home.
- Turn on only one toy at a time. Avoid competing noises in the same area.