In the past few decades, largely as a result of my own knuckleheaded generation who learned just how much sound can be amplified…, we’ve all learned a whole lot about protecting our hearing. Huh? Whaddya say?? And now with hunting season in full swing, hearing protection is something we should all be thinking about — for ourselves and even more importantly, our kids. (I say “more importantly” because you may be dumb enough to choose not to avoid wrecking your hearing — which is largely avoidable, but it’s just wrong not to protect your kids’ fragile ears when they’re relying solely on you to take care of them. ‘Nuff said.)
So today, let’s talk just about hearing protection for kids. As we all know, getting kids to keep hearing protection on is a trick. Here are a few pointers:
- Put something on them that they forget is there…otherwise, they’re pulling them off, out, etc and you’re in yet another battle. I’ve found that earplugs are a waste for smaller kids. First, they don’t fit well, and second, they fall out or the kids pull them out. I say headsets are the way to go. And don’t worry, they will get used to them.
- Be a role model for your child. If you’re not wearing them (you knucklehead), then don’t expect your kid to.
- Teach your kids to avoid loud noises even when they don’t have protection readily available — in other words, whenever there’s a siren, a power tool, a loud motorcycle, whatever, teach them to cover their ears till the noise passes.
- Think hard about ear plugs with babies and little little kids. There is a choking hazard.
- Include your kid in choosing the headset if you can. It’s a little like having your kid choose his/her own bike helmet. They’re more into it when it’s “theirs”.
It’s really important to get a headset that fits kids. Sure, any! headset is better than none, but the kids sizes protect them better. The cups are smaller with more padding. The headbands are smaller and well padded. And finally, the adjustments are tailored for smaller heads. There are two types of headsets: passive and electronic. Passive sets simply protect the ears and do not have anything to enhance sound. Electronic sets protect as well as passive sets, but also have interior electronics that allow sounds in — just not over a certain decibel. Obviously, electronic will cost you more.
So here are a few of the great options out there. We’ll start with passive headsets which run in the $16 – $20 range.
A familiar name, Peltor (known for airline and tactical hearing protection) makes a great one for kids. The color schemes are limited to blue, pink, and grey/black.
Of course, Remington has a great set for kids that’s geared for the little hunters and big hunters’ companion. They have a limited number of color options as well.
For the little little ones, these are great and are made by Ear Muffs. I’ve seen these on a baby at a NASCAR race…and the kid actually looked happy!
Now lets step it up to the electronic headsets. There are far fewer of these out there for kids, but Pro Ears makes a good one called the ReVO and cost about $79. (They also make this as a passive headset which will run you about $39)
There are a ton of options on color and pattern with the ReVo Series.
In a nutshell, the experts say it quite simply: if you need to shout to be heard, it is very likely that the noise is too loud—and it may be damage ears. And if you experience ringing in the ears after exposure to noise, that’s a sure sign of excessive sound levels.
Now if your kids show up in headsets on a normal day at home…it’s time to do some soul searching…