How To

How to Pick the Right Hearing Protection

By Ernest Hamilton , Feb 27, 2020 06:23 AM EST

Hearing protection devices are an excellent tool for keeping your ears safe and your hearing intact.

If you're considering purchasing one, then you're already on the right track. There are many reasons to use hearing protection.

To illustrate this, between the ages of 20 and 69, 1/4 of U.S. adults have hearing loss. This is a massive figure and you can easily be included if you don't use ear protection.

When picking an ear protection device, you need to select one that suits the conditions that you're using them in. We'll help you navigate this below!

Consider Your Environment

The first thing that you need to do is consider the environment in which you'll be using ear protection.

There are typically three different scenarios that glaringly necessitate hearing protection. This includes a job working with loud noises, shooting and hunting, and particularly noisy social events.

Jobs with loud noises tend to be based in the construction or manufacturing industries. Construction involves the use of power tools and plenty of banging.

Manufacturing typically features powerful equipment. Either job means that you'll be around a heavy volume of noise for up to eight hours a day.

If you're into shooting and hunting, then ear protection is also a must. Firearms are exceptionally loud and they're used very close to your ears.

While hunting is typically quieter, for the most part, shooting at a gun range involves prolonged periods of loud noise.

Finally, loud social events also necessitate ear protection. Picture an event like a concert or a festival with high volume music.

The underlying theme of all three situations is being exposed to loud volume, usually for long periods. Think about why you're using ear protection to determine the needs of your usage.

Evaluate Noise Levels

Another consideration is to evaluate the total noise level you'll experience. This includes how loud your environment is and the volume of loud noise you experience.

Some noises and environments are louder than others, which requires additional protection. For example, a concert may be a higher volume level than working in a construction site.

On the other hand, you can have a stark difference between how much noise there is. Working in a loud manufacturing facility means constant exposure to noise, while a hunting trip will have highly infrequent loud noise when you fire your gun.

Not all situations include the same level of volume and duration. Both of these factors are relevant because they dictate how much ear protection you'll need.

Working in a loud environment at all times means you need constant high-level protection. Alternatively, an infrequently loud environment might make lesser protection more appropriate.

Determine Other Factors

In addition to understanding your environment and the noise levels present, you should determine if any other factors are relevant.

While you might need hearing protection to block out loud noises, it may not be the only thing to consider.

A great way to understand this is the hunting example mentioned above. You're only going to experience high volume when your gun fires.

The rest of the time will be spent waiting in silence. If you've ever gone hunting before, then you understand the importance of being able to hear the wildlife.

If you've brought heavy-duty earmuffs with you, then you might not be able to hear minor sounds that can help you hunt. This can detract from your experience and you might never even fire your gun!

Another relevant factor is comfort. If you're wearing your ear protection for eight hours a day, then you're going to need something comfortable.

Opting to wear earmuffs with excellent ear protection will get tiresome and painful if they aren't comfortable. Ear protection is your priority, but this must be balanced with comfort!

The last aspect of this involves your range of motion. Some earmuffs are bulky and can restrict your ability to move your head.

This can be problematic if your earmuffs get in the way. You might run into things and accidentally pull your earmuffs off.

Make sure to find a pair of earmuffs that have a good mixture of ear protection, comfort, ability to hear minor sounds, and isn't a burden to wear.

Earmuffs or Earplugs?

A final thing to think about is whether you should use earmuffs or earplugs.

Both devices can be effective at protecting your ears, but the two are quite different.

Earplugs are the small inserts typically made of foam that go directly in your ear canal. This plugs up your ear and limits the noise that can enter.

Alternatively, earmuffs generally are worn over your ears with a band resting on your head. This completely covers your ear rather than plugging just your ear canal.

Beyond stylistic differences, the two vary in protection level and comfort. For the most part, earmuffs are the better choice for both better protection and overall comfort.

The reason for this is simple. Earmuffs are more diverse in what they can accomplish and have a greater capacity for protection.

Furthermore, it's far more convenient to wear earmuffs that rest on your head. Earplugs can fall out of your ear and this can be a hassle.

That said, there are still scenarios where you might prefer earplugs. If you're only using ear protection for a brief period, then the lightweight feature of earplugs might make them more appealing.

Understanding what you need to use your ear protection for will largely dictate whether earmuffs or earplugs are a better choice. If you're not sure, then don't be afraid to use both for extra noise protection!

Closing Thoughts

Proper ear protection is a fantastic tool for keeping your ears safe in noisy environments. Depending on your situation, they might be a necessity.

To determine which ear protection is best for you, there is much to consider. This includes the environment you'll be using them in, how loud it is and for how long, and other factors like comfort and needing to hear minor noises.

Understanding this information will allow you to decide whether earmuffs or earplugs will work best for you! If you're particularly concerned about your hearing, then you can't go wrong with a good pair of electronic earmuffs.

Going without ear protection is a major mistake and you'll greatly appreciate using it!

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