I have a good friend Trisha whose father is an otologist. Otologists study the anatomy and pathology of the ear, and Trisha’s father specialized in hearing loss.
When Trisha was growing up, her father made her (and her three older sisters) wear ear plugs every time they blow dried their hair.
“Hearing loss is cumulative,” he used to tell them, as he bought earplugs by the case.
At a Blue Angels air show last year, I made my kids wear protective headphones (the super-attractive kind that gardeners wear when using leaf blowers). I keep the car stereo volume annoyingly low. I make my kids cover their ears with their hands when a fire engine roars past.
I’m that mom.
So it will come as no surprise that I’ve never been entirely comfortable with headphones on airplanes (less so now that earbuds have pretty much replaced their foam-covered predecessors), but have treated them as a necessary evil. A flight without movies is not a flight I want to take.
That’s why I was overjoyed to discover a product called iHearSafe Earbuds. No matter how high the volume is turned on the connected device, the earbuds themselves will never go louder than 85 decibels.
Confident that my worries were over, I ordered two pairs and then left immediately on an 11-hour flight to England.
In the hush of the car, they worked like a dream. In the calm of the airport, they performed admirably. In row 32 of United flight 954, the honeymoon was over.
Now I can’t tell you how loud the jet engines are inside the cabin of a Boeing 747, but I can tell you how loud a 6-year-old boy is when he realizes The Spiderwick Chronicles is starting, and he can’t hear.
Very, very loud.
We rang the flight attendant call button (if ever there was an on-board emergency for our family, this was it) and explained that we would be needing a pair of headphones after all. Crisis averted.
So, it’s back to the drawing board for now for kid safe headphones. At least for air travel.
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