By Col. Marjorie Grantham, USAPHC
While most of us are aware hazardous noise damages hearing, how to protect ourselves in a way that allows us to live and work in a world of sometimes dangerous sounds is just not intuitive.
Whether your favorite noisy recreational activity involves shooting, hunting, musical concerts, working out to tunes on your personal listening system, jamming with your band, boating or fishing on your favorite local waterway, achieving the perfect garden or heading out for NASCAR, sporting or Scouting events, there is a hearing protector that is right for you.
Remember, too, that you can reduce your hazardous sound exposure by listening to music and other good sounds below the halfway point for the volume control, by limiting your listening time and by giving your ears some quiet time to recover.
So, how do you know when you need hearing protection? If you are standing three feet away from someone and have to raise your voice above the background sounds or if you are facing someone and the noise is so loud you can't hear him or her from this distance, use your hearing protectors.
Earplugs, earmuffs and communications and protection systems, like Tactical Communications and Protective Systems, or TCAPS, come in many different styles. If you are unsure whether your hearing protectors fit or are the right kind for the sounds you are in, check with your installation hearing program manager, audiologist, hearing technician or unit hearing program officer.
Even very young children can wear earplugs, as very small sizes are available. Remember that proper insertion, before you go into the noisy environment, is the key to your hearing preservation.
For example, be sure foam earplugs are inserted at least three-fourths of their length into the ear canal.
It is no longer inevitable that you retire from the Army with hearing loss. Research demonstrates if you wear your hearing protection properly and at the right time, you'll retire from Army service with your hearing intact. Best of all, you can enjoy your favorite sounds off duty, too.
To learn more about how the Army Hearing Program supports you, visit U.S. Army Public Health Command at http://phc.amedd.army.mil/topics/workplacehealth/hrc/Pages/RelatedSites.aspx.