If you’ve ever been to a hockey game (or seen some of our previous posts!) you’ve probably seen a similar image before. The noise meter is an infamous component of nearly every professional sports game out there these days; up on the big screen, it encourages fans to support their team and “get loud” – as loud as possible! But this year, the stages on the meter have changed slightly: from “rumblings,” to “kinda’ loud,” “very loud,” “wicked loud” – and right before the “bear growl” on top, “insert earplugs.”
While this is certainly a humorous change of wording, it’s also very ironic, considering that the noise at that point is likely already well beyond safe levels. Generally, exposure to noise levels above 85 decibels can be harmful to your hearing health. Back in 2011, the NHL would release the Decibel Meter readings for particularly loud games, a practice that they have since let fade from view. Each reading had accompanying comparisons like “motorcycle” or “sandblasting.” At the end of a 2011 Game 5 Canucks vs. Bruins game, the meter clocked 119 decibels – comparable to a “loud rock concert.”
Although we know you’d be hard-pressed to convince the sports lover in your life to bring hearing protection to the next big game, it’s always worth a shot. Like hearing aids, hearing protection devices can be custom fit for your comfort. There are many options available that safeguard your ears while still allowing you to communicate effectively. Since most cases of noise-induced hearing loss occur gradually, it’s in your best interest to take precautions. Think of it as another habit-building exercise. Just like flossing and brushing your teeth, bringing hearing protection with you to loud events is a simple way to invest in your health’s future.