December is the biggest toy-buying month of the year. Unfortunately, many well-intentioned parents may be purchasing potentially harmful toys for their children. Any sound above 85 decibels (dB) can cause hearing loss over time.
The danger with noisy toys is greater than the sound level they produce implies. Children often hold toys directly to their ears which actually exposes them to more sound. A toy rated at 90dB can produce as much as 120 dB of sound at the ear, the equivalent of a jet plane taking off. Noise at this level is painful and can result in permanent hearing loss.
Every year the Sight & Hearing Association and researchers from the University of Minnesota test a variety of toys for potentially dangerous noise levels. This year, 19 of 24 toys tested produced sounds in excess of 100 dB. That’s louder than a chainsaw! Workers would have to wear hearing protection for similar noisy sounds on the job.
This year’s top offender was Disney’s Cars 2 Shake n Go! Finn McMissile car, blaring at 124 dB, loud enough to risk instant hearing damage. Number two was another Disney product, Princess Video Play-a-Sound Follow Your Dreams book coming in at 118 dB. For the complete list, visit Sight & Hearing Association.
To protect your children, follow these tips:
- Before purchasing a new toy, listen to it. If a toy sounds loud, don’t buy it
- Check the toys you already have at home. Remove the batteries or put masking or duct tape over the speakers of noisy toys. This will help reduce their volume.
- Look for toys that have a volume control or an option to mute the volume.
- Report loud toys. Contact the Consumer Product Safety Commission or the Sight & Hearing Association.
Remember, your child’s hearing is precious (just like them!).