Most people almost always wear sunglasses to reduce exposure to damaging ultraviolet rays of the sun, but many people don’t wear ear protection when they’re around noise that could cause hearing loss. Perhaps it’s because we’re not familiar with when to wear ear protection, or at what level noise becomes hazardous. Here are some examples of the best times to protect your ears.

Doing chores at home

Every week, the grass needs to be cut. That means that every week, you’re exposing your ears to noise that can be as loud as 90 dB or 100 dB for some period of time. That level of noise can damage your hearing. Exposure to sounds above 85 dB can lead to noise-induced hearing loss. Even short-term exposure can hurt. So whether it’s the lawn mower, your power tools, a generator, etc., it’s a good idea to wear ear protection when doing chores. Earmuffs provide good hearing protection for these tasks.

Watching movies, concerts, plays and more

Today’s action movies sometimes have scenes that are more than 100 dB! Even short-term exposure at that level can damage your hearing. If you enjoy concerts or the theatre, the sound levels can be just as loud. Using disposable earplugs at these venues can reduce the decibel level without diminishing your enjoyment of the event. Some people prefer to wear foam earplugs at a noisy restaurant or on an airplane. If you think that you might be around noise for a specific period of time, earplugs may be a good choice.

Enjoying outdoor sports

Whether it’s riding a motorcycle, snowmobiling, motor sports or cheering fans, it’s loud out there! Scientists report sound in the stands at a race car event are at levels as high as 96dB and that fans at the Super Bowl can get as loud as 107 dB. After just 15 minutes, you’re potentially damaging your hearing. If you are a shooter, you should already know the importance of ear protection. Exposure to the sound of just one a gunshot without ear protection can permanently damage your hearing.

Doing your job

Depending upon your profession, you may be exposed to some pretty loud noises. Factory workers often are required to wear ear protection because of high-volume repetitive noise. Radio station workers can be exposed to loud music or may have their headphone volume at damaging levels (the same goes for those who listen to music with headphones or earbuds). If you work is in a noisy environment, consider using disposable earplugs or custom earplugs to prevent noise-induced hearing loss.

Knowing when to wear ear protection is an important step in preventing noise-induced hearing loss. This type of hearing loss affects anyone – young or old. Sometimes it’s temporary, sometimes it’s permanent. Using ear protection such as earplugs or earmuffs significantly reduces your chances of damaging your hearing. You don’t leave home without sunglasses – why not keep a small pair of earplugs with you as well? It’s worth it.

If you’re not sure which form of ear protection is best for you, schedule an appointment with an audiologist in your area. The audiologist will be able to recommend the best type of protection for your particular needs.