Summer hearing protection for the whole family


Contributed by Debbie Clason, staff writer, Healthy Hearing

Road trip! No two words ever struck such fear into a parent’s heart, right? OK – so maybe we’re exaggerating just a bit. Even so, if you’re planning on spending a lot of time in the car as a family this summer, arming yourself with fun and educational games to pass the time peacefully might be a sanity saver. With that in mind, here’s a hearing protection quiz game with information everyone in the family can benefit from. Not only will you pass the time with a little less drama, you’ll also be helping your loved ones learn the importance of protecting their sense of hearing.

Why you should be concerned about protecting your child’s hearing

Dad with two smiling young girls in a mini van
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Your child’s hearing plays an important role in their ability to communicate and learn. According to the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association (ASHA), untreated hearing loss affects a child’s development in four major ways:

  • Delays in speech and language development
  • Learning problems which negatively affect academic achievement
  • Communication difficulties which may lead to social isolation and poor self-concept
  • Potential for impact on vocational choices

And, while there’s nothing you can do to prevent congenital or hereditary hearing loss, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) an estimated 12.5% of children and adolescents between the ages of 6 and 19 have suffered permanent damage to their hearing from excessive exposure to noise.

While that’s an alarming statistic, here’s the good news: noise induced hearing loss (NIHL) is preventable. And, since you can’t always be there to protect your child from NIHL, teaching them how to protect themselves is the next best thing. 

Summer hearing protection family quiz 

Directions: Copy and paste the following questions and answers into a Word document. Print the page, then cut the questions and answers apart and put them into an envelope. You could also glue them onto large index cards, if desired. Each participating member of the family takes a turn by pulling a card out of the envelope and reading the question out loud to the person on their right. Older siblings may want to partner with younger members of the family who are not yet able to read. Correct answers are removed from the envelope, incorrect answers are returned to the envelope for another chance. The envelope is passed around the car until every question has been answered correctly. Consider giving a small token for each correct answer, such as a quarter or piece of candy.

Q: What do you always carry with you that you can use to protect your ears from loud noise?

A: Your hands. Cupping your hands over your ears or gently putting your fingers in your ear canals can reduce the amount of noise your ears receive.

Q: True or false: Listening to very loud music can hurt your hearing.

A: True. If the music is so loud you can’t hear the person next to you when they speak, it is too loud and you should turn it down.

Q: What are three easy ways to protect your hearing when you are attending a music concert?

A: 1) Wear ear plugs or headphones, 2) Do not sit next to the speakers, 3) Take a five minute break from the music every hour to give your ears a rest.

Q: What are stereocilia and what do they do?

A: Stereocilia live in the inner ear and look like small hairs. They are responsible for relaying sound to the brain. Most ears have anywhere from 17,500 to 23,500 of these hair cells.

Q: True or false: your brain helps you hear

A: True. After your outside ears collect sound, your inner ear turns it into electrical impulses and sends it to the brain. The brain’s job is to interpret these noises into everyday sounds you recognize, such as speech and music.

Q: What is the ONLY thing you should put inside your ear canal?

A: A warm, wet washcloth. Sticking anything else in your ear canal, such as a cotton swab or bobby pin, could puncture your ear drum and damage your hearing. Ouch!

Q: What should you do if you think you have something inside your ear canal?

A: See your family doctor or a hearing healthcare professional. They have special instruments designed to look inside and safely remove anything that doesn’t belong.

Q: Why is it important to protect your ears from loud noise?

A: Loud noises can damage the delicate parts of your inner ear (stereocilia) which are responsible for translating the noise your ears collect into electrical impulses.

Q: What is a decibel (dB) and why is it important to your hearing health?

A: A decibel measures sound. Knowing how loud a sound is can help you determine when to wear earplugs or headphones. Safe sounds are those which measure 85 dB or less. Soft sounds include a whisper (30 dB) and rainfall (50 dB). Loud sounds include a lawn mower (95-120 dB) and fireworks (140 dB).

Q: True or false. A bad cold can interfere with your ability to hear.

A: True. Congestion from a bad cold can temporarily prevent sound from passing through the ear canal to the inner ear. This type of hearing loss is known as conductive hearing loss and usually clears up on its own.

Q: True or false: It’s important to wear a hat or earmuffs in the winter to protect your ears from extremely cold weather.

A: True. Ears don’t have any fat tissue so they get cold quickly. Blood doesn’t circulate as well in cold weather, either, which means there’s greater risk for developing an ear infection. Wearing a hat, headband or earmuffs keeps your ears warm and reduces this risk.

Q: What is the outside of the ear called and why is it an important part of your hearing health?

A: The outside of the ear is called the pinna or auricle. It’s responsible for collecting sound waves and funneling them into the ear canal. The folds of the pinna help us determine where sound is coming from. The pinna also helps block wind and dirt from entering the ear canal which may cause infection or discomfort.

We hope you enjoy all your summer road trips and learned a thing or two about your ears and hearing with this quiz. If any member of the family is having trouble hearing, encourage them to visit a local hearing healthcare professional for help. 


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