Image of decibel ratingsThe simple answer is whenever noise levels surpass 85 decibels. However, your ears aren’t made to track decibels. A general rule of thumb is if you have to shout to be heard, your environment is probably dangerously loud.

Decibels represent the noise levels humans can hear. The higher the decibel count, the more dangerous the sound is to your ears. Here are some common situations where you should protect your ears.


Where To Wear

Environments with extremely loud noise levels like rock concerts and construction sites always require hearing protection. Most workplaces with obvious noise exposure have regulations in place to protect their workers from long-term hearing damage.

But what about the less obvious situations?

Commute to work: If you drive, ride the bus, or take the subway to work, you’re definitely exposed to excessive noise levels. City traffic reaches 80-85 dB from inside a car. Driving to work every day, five times a week is a common, but often overlooked, source of exposure.

Using power tools: If you use them on the job or at home, always where hearing protection during operation. Tools like power saws easily can exceed 110 decibels.

Around the house: It may seem unlikely, but the appliances and equipment are often louder than 85 dB. Don’t hesitate to pop in a pair of ear plugs if you’re running loud equipment at home. Common appliance noise levels include:

  • Washing machine or dishwasher: 70 dB
  • Lawnmowers and leaf blowers: 80-85 dB
  • Television or radio: 105-110 dB
  • Food processor or blender: 80-90 dB

At the gym: Loud music, instructors with mics, and clanging equipment all put you at risk for hearing damage. Try noise-canceling headphones so you can listen to music without cranking the volume.


If you’re listening to music through headphones or ear buds, pay attention to the volume. Ear buds are especially risky because they are situated closer to your ear canal. There are also decibel apps to help you track the noise level of sounds you encounter every day.

Get in the practice of identifying the sources of damaging noise exposure in your daily life and adjust appropriately. When in doubt, err on the side of caution and use hearing protection. Being extra cautious will protect and maintain your hearing in the long-run.

Manatee Ear Center is committed to helping you protect your hearing. Learn more about our products and services and how we can help you lead a healthy and happy life. Call 941-745-1518 or contact us online.