Are Power Outages Damaging Your Hearing?
Recently Washington State had a bad storm. A lot of people lost electrical power, including my wife and me. Usually loosing power is not a big deal for my wife and me. We have battery powered lanterns, a wood burning stove, blankets, camp stove for cooking, everything we need. And even though we may not always like it, we have lived many times through week long power outages. The only thing we lacked were hot showers.
One day many years ago I got myself a small generator for work. Just to run power tools. I always wore hearing protectors and never ran the thing for very long. Also because of the size of the generator, I never used it during power outages. It was a little too small to run a refrigerator.
This year however I needed to use it. The first day of the power outage I was using the generator when I thought, ‘I’ll be nice and plug in the coffee maker for my wife.’ So I did. Then the television was plugged in. Then a lamp. And after a while, the noise was just over whelming for me. I know I’m different from most, but I do not like all that noise. I don’t understand why noise doesn’t usually bother my wife.
Many people don’t understand that even though I am hard of hearing, I don’t like a lot of loud noise. And I don’t even wear hearing aids.
Soon the power came back on. We were without electricity for only two nights and a day. So we only had the generator running for a day and some of the second evening. I loved the quiet.
The next day as I was putting things away, I found a sound level meter. I turned it on in the quiet of my garage and found the meter was reading 30-35 decibels. I was a little surprised as I didn’t know there was any sound. But then an audiogram shows I wouldn’t hear that anyway.
I started my generator again, while wearing hearing protectors, stood about 10 feet (3 meters) away and tested the sound level. 114 decibels!!! That seemed high. I then tested my large line trimmer, the kind that has the large wheels and lawn mower engine. While running the trimmer at full speed and standing next to it holding the trimmer engaging lever down, I found it was only 103 db. Interesting. I then tested my lawn mower. It too was quieter than the generator.
I find it interesting that we’re told to protect our hearing from power tools, lawn mowers, chain saws, and loud music, and we should. All of these however only lasts a short time. Why is it that nobody says anything about generators? Many people will run a generator for hours if not days.
So what should I do? Well the first thing I should do is to get rid of that old generator. After all, not only is it super loud, it is honestly about 25 years old. After checking the Internet I found many generators are fairly quiet, but not all. Do your homework.
How many people are using or have used excessively loud generators after a storm or earthquake? How many are damaging their hearing from them? I don’t about you, but for me, even though I am hard of hearing, I don’t want to became deaf. Keep in mind that there are studies that show hearing loss has been linked to dementia.
So if you have an older or even not so old generator that you keep for emergency use, check to see if it’s excessively loud. If so replace it. If you can, run it inside a dog house to cut down on noise exposure. (Please don’t tell your dog I said so.) Many years ago, the US Army would dug a hole to place the generator in. Bottom line, do what you can to protect you hearing.