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Remember, remember your ears this November
National charity Deafness Research UK is warning that 5 November can turn into a ‘fright night’ if fireworks are used inappropriately and advises everyone to remember a few simple tips to ensure they enjoy the evening’s festivities safely.
Bonfire night is traditionally a busy time for the emergency services with so many bonfires and fireworks on one night. But the problem of damage to your hearing through exposure to loud noise goes largely unreported.
“Fireworks on 5 November are great fun and we want everyone to ensure they enjoy themselves safely,” said Vivienne Michael, Chief Executive of Deafness Research UK. “However, the very loudest fireworks, particularly if they are set off in enclosed spaces such as back gardens could result in long-term hearing damage through noise-induced hearing loss (NIHL). Children are particularly at risk, as their hearing can be more sensitive - but with a bit of common sense, everyone should be able to savour the evening.”
Many fireworks on sale today, particularly the very loud ‘cakes’ usually require spectators to stand at least 25-30 metres away, but as many people don’t have large back gardens, these could cause problems. Protect your own and your children’s hearing by following some simple rules:
•Choose appropriate fireworks for your space – avoid the ‘category 5’ ones which are particularly noisy
•Timing – remember setting off fireworks is illegal after midnight on 5 November
•Ensure you let off fireworks in an open garden area and stand well back. Check the box for the recommended distance.
•Do not set off very loud fireworks in an enclosed built up area – sound bounces off buildings and amplifies the noise.
•If you are unsure or concerned about noise levels, wear ear plugs or ear protectors to make sure you are not at risk.
Extended exposure to noise at 85 decibels (db) is enough to risk irreversible hearing damage and with some fireworks capable of producing noise in excess of 155 db, and hearing is obviously at greater risk in enclosed garden spaces. The solution is to buy fireworks appropriate to your garden and the space you have available.
For the majority, Bonfire night will pass off without incident, but if you suffer from hearing problems such as tinnitus, or have concerns about the elderly or young members of your family, earplugs or ear protectors are widely available and very affordable. They are a very effective way of cutting down the noise to safer levels, without cutting out the fun.
“Fireworks don’t have to be ear splitting to be fun,” added Vivienne. “Locally organised displays are a good option, as they should comply with the health and safety rules. If you are having fireworks at home, then follow the firework code and protect your hearing by choosing appropriate fireworks and wear earplugs or ear protectors if required.
For information on deafness and deafness-related conditions e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org or visit Deafness Research UK’s website at www.deafnessresearch.org.uk
Notes to editors
Photo caption: Vivienne Michael, Chef Executive of Deafness Research UK
For more information on Noise-induced hearing loss, visit our website
About Deafness Research UK
•Deafness Research UK is the country’s only charity dedicated to finding new cures, treatments and technologies for deaf, hard of hearing and other hearing impaired people.
•The charity supports high quality medical research into the prevention, diagnosis and treatment of all forms of hearing impairment including tinnitus.
•The Deafness Research UK Information Service provides free information and advice based on the latest scientific evidence and informed by leading experts. The Advisory Service can be contacted on Freephone 0808 808 2222
•For more information on research into deafness, tinnitus and other hearing conditions, log on to the website at www.deafnessresearch.org.uk where you can access a wide range of information. Alternatively you can e-mail Deafness Research UK at email@example.com
•One in seven people in the UK – almost nine million people - suffer hearing loss.
•Deafness Research UK was founded in 1985 by Lord (Jack) and Lady Ashley of Stoke.
•In January 2008, Action for Tinnitus Research (ATR) was linked with Deafness Research UK under a uniting direction order under section 96(6) of the Charities Act 1993.
Laws governing fireworks and local authority guidelines
•If a local authority officer judges noise from fireworks to be a statutory nuisance, under the Environmental Protection Act 1990, they can issue an abatement notice.
•Under the Noise Act 1996 local authorities in England and Wales have powers to issue a fixed penalty notice if excessive noise is emitted from premises (including gardens) between 11.00 pm and 7.00 am. For November 5, this is extended to 12 midnight.
•Under the Crime and Disorder Act 1998 local authorities or the police can apply to magistrates for an anti-social behaviour order where anyone has caused "harassment, alarm or distress". Disobeying an order carries a maximum penalty of a five year prison sentence. These regulations can be enforced by the police.
•There is a penalty of up to £5000 or 6 months in prison for breach of the curfew on setting Fireworks off after midnight on November 5.
Jon Gardner, BeyondPR. www.beyondpr.co.uk Mobile 07930 697773. Direct line 0114 275 6996. e-mail: jon.gardner@
Ref: DRUK0315 – Firework Danger 2010
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