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Protecting Children’s Hearing from Loud Toys

It’s the gift giving season once again.  When deciding which toys to buy children and grandchildren, how many of us take into consideration how loud the toy may be?   Probably a very small percentage.  When we think of hearing loss and noise exposure, we typically don’t consider our youngest generation, but they can be at risk for excessive noise exposure and possibly noise induced hearing loss from certain toys that are marketed to them.

Is Their Favorite Toy on the List?

According to the Sight & Hearing Association (SHA), there are many toys on the store shelves that measure at 100 dB or more!  That is as loud as a lawn mower!  Noise levels at this amplitude can do damage to hearing over time or sometimes even instantly if the toy is close enough to the child when the noise is present.   For well over ten years, SHA has annually published a list of the year’s noisiest toys to warn holiday shoppers of the potentially harmful purchases. The SHA tests the toys for loudness both near the ear (as children tend to hold their toys closely as they play) and at an approximate arm’s length (ten inches from the ear.) To give an example of how loud certain toys can get the number one offender from last year’s list was the Disney Cars 2 Shake N Go Finn McMissile.  The decibel level reached 124 dB which can be instantly damaging to hearing.  A book with sound features measured at 118 dB.  This book happened to be intended for 18 month old children!

We Can Help Detect Dangerous Sound Levels

In my opinion, the best way to protect our kids from excessive noise exposure is awareness while buying toys for them.  If it sounds loud in the store, when you are holding it 10 to 12 inches from you, imagine how loud it would be if it were next to your ear.  There are certain apps for smart phones that can be down loaded for little or no cost that are used to measure decibel levels.  You can find an app like this by searching for Sound Level Meter.  If you have toys at this time that you feel may be too loud, feel free to bring them in to any HRC location and we would be happy to test the levels for you.

During the hustle and bustle of the holiday season, and wondering what to get our youngest friends and family, quieter is better.

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