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Sounds of Summer: Ear Friendly Travel Tips

The list of things to during the summer is endless, and one thing that everyone looks forward to is travelling - whether it's catching a plane, jumping in the RV to go campSummer Travel Hearing Tipsing, or going on a boat.

Across Canada, hundreds of thousands of people are travelling to camp sites, fun attractions, or just heading out to spend time with loved ones.

But even when travelling, there are dangers that we need to be aware of.

Connect Hearing has been diligently encouraging people to take their hearing health seriously. It is one reason why we advise people to visit our clinics for free hearing tests.

By getting the answers about hearing and making your ears a priority, it is our hope that hearing loss will become a thing of the past.

Most people are aware of hearing dangers but those dangers are harder to spot when it comes to things we love, like travelling.

Take boating for example – a favourite pastime for many people enjoying the summer, can pose a threat to your hearing health. According to, typically, idle speed test numbers fall in the 60 decibels area, the same level as a casual conversation. As the boat climbs on plane, the engine noise revs up into the 70 decibels. Then it climbs to 80 decibels at cruising speeds and into the nineties as it nears wide-open throttle; some noisy boats hit 100 decibels. That sound is generated from three main areas: Engine noise, wind noise, and water hitting the hull.

How loud is that?

  • Vacuum - 75 decibels
  • Washing machine - 78 decibels
  • Diesel truck - 85 decibels
  • Jackhammer - 98 decibels
  • Metallica concert - 118 decibels

So while we associate water with calm, relaxing and quiet moments, there are dangers. This doesn't mean that you shouldn't enjoy the joys that boating brings, but it should be understood that some engines can create a lot of noise.

Speaking of engines, where do planes fit in with that number? According to that same chart, a jet flying at 100 feet comes in at 103 decibels.

For many Canadians jumping on a motorcycle is a great way to enjoy the summer. But according to the Columbian Missourian, a motorcycle at cruising speed can approach 107 decibels, 118 decibels fully revved.

M.J. DeSousa, Connect Hearing’s Director of Professional Practice says it's important to understand that while travel is a wonderful thing, there can be risks.

“I really don't want people to be afraid of travel – there's nothing wrong with hopping on a motorcycle, plane or heading onto the lake in a motorboat,” says DeSousa. “Our goal isn't to make you afraid of the summer travel, our goal is to help you understand dangers to your hearing health so that you can enjoy the summer safely. Make it a point to carry hearing protection wherever you go, even to the airport, train station or pier. Don't be afraid of looking silly - step away if you think it's too loud.”

DeSousa also said that there are many things people can do this summer that are really quiet and are of no threat to your hearing health. And the best part? You don't have to travel away from home to enjoy them.

“Whatever happened to the good ol' picnic? How about a nice barbecue with your friends and family? Or a nice walk in your local city, provincial or federal park? Or a nice long hike,” says DeSousa. “A friendly game of softball, flying a kite, singing over a campfire. Heck, an afternoon blowing bubbles. I could go on and on. We need to get the message out that summer activities don't necessarily have to leave your eardrums ringing, and that you don't need to travel far to enjoy them. It wouldn't hurt anyone to make it a goal to make summer 2014 the quietest summer yet.”

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