As an audiologist for earEVERYTHING, Inc., hearing is what I do for a living. For over 16 years, I have worked in the motorsport industry and have observed innovation in helmets, fire suits, and tools. There have also been advancements increasing the fan experience through scanners and handheld timing and scoring devices. Yet there is still a huge void for all drivers, crew, safety/track workers, and fans on how to protect their hearing and make more efficient use of radios and these fan devices in the presence of noise.
You can find many articles telling you how loud racecars are. You can find many articles explaining how bad this level of noise is for your hearing. You will be hard-pressed to find information or direction on how to effectively protect your hearing, listen at safer volumes, and be more efficient doing both while not destroying the race track experience.
I have compiled a small set of guidelines to consider when choosing how to “listen” safer and easier the next time you attend a motorsport event:
- Everything you put in your ear while in the presence of noise should act as a hearing protector. If a proper and effective fit can be achieved, you have hearing protection! Anything that reduces the level of noise on the outside from reaching your ear canals is hearing protection. When listening to a radio/scanner/spectator gadget, you have a chance to hear at lower volume.
- It’s all about the fit! If you are using the volume control to overpower ambient sound, as a result of a poor fit, you run the risk of listening at even higher volumes than the racecars! This will easily cause the same type of hearing damage you were trying to avoid in the first place.
- The eRACER earset provided by earEVERYTHING, Inc. is a custom crafted silicone earphone made from a mold taken of your ear. The ease of listening and clarity is achieved because we have isolated the ear from the outside noise.
- People should be made aware of all available types of hearing protection. Understand your options! People come to the race track to hear the racecars; they are resistant to blocking it all out, which means they have declined to wear hearing protection correctly, or even at all. There are passive hearing protectors!
- Earsavers provided by earEVERYTHING, Inc. are soft custom molded earplugs with an all pass filter. This type of earplug will reduce noise to more acceptable levels without disrupting your listening experience. These earplugs get so many compliments on how much better they hear the cars. The filters eliminate the reverberant sound, lots of background noise, and let you hear easier and clearer. Because you have facilitated this experience your brain and body is less tired, you haven’t triggered all the safety mechanisms within your own ears, and you haven’t exerted the same kind of energy to try to 'hear' all day.
- Your brain is actually doing the hearing. The sense is designed to have information coming into both your ears. Using both earpieces at all times will help your brain process the incoming information requiring less volume.
- PARENTS: If you bring your children to the race track, please protect their hearing! Infants and toddlers probably best adopt the earmuff style hearing protector. Choose the highest Noise Reduction Rating (NRR), and choose a band/material combination that you feel comfortable with on your baby. You may need to work with your child prior to the event to get them comfortable wearing something on their head. Make it a game at home. Build tolerance so they aren’t fighting you all day taking the earmuffs off. For kids ages 6+, there are easy-to-insert triple flanged earplugs available at any drugstore. These adapt easily to various canal shapes and sizes.
There is no substitute for full custom-fit products. Consistency in fit with every use, assures you the same level of protection with every use. If custom-made is not an option, there are several over-the-counter options that can be effective.
Hearing loss is painless, happens slowly over a long period of time, and is a permanent type of damage to the sensory cells within the inner workings of your ear. It is also 100% preventable if we educate ourselves and use the products available to protect our ears. You only get one chance to save your sense of hearing; hearing loss does not have to be an inevitable result of working in or being a fan of motorsport!
For additional information or to schedule a hearing/product consultation, please contact:
L Dawn Flinn, Audiologist
+1 (317) 514-9584