A sound level meter measures the loudness of a sound in decibels. You can get a simple sound meter to measure the loudness of tools in your shop. When Dr. Harkrider and host David Thiel measured the sound of a circular saw, the meter read 98 decibels. A cordless drill measured 80 decibels. A shop vacuum measured 84. Eighty decibels or less will not promote permanent hearing loss. You should wear hearing protection when using tools that measure over 80 decibels.
- Disposable hearing plugs should be used only once. They are made from a variety of materials, the most common of which is foam. To put in a foam earplug, first roll the foam between your hands to make it thin. Then, take the plug in one hand and pull the top of your ear upwards with the other. This straightens the ear canal so that the plug can be worked into your ear. After doing that, hold it down for a few seconds. The plug should not hang out of the ear. Plugs must be placed properly to work correctly.
- Some plugs are reusable. They come in different sizes and have different numbers of flanges to give the best fit. Some of them have strings attached so they can be hung around the neck to keep them handy.
- There are reusable earplugs that have plastic head bands to keep them on your head.
- Earmuffs provide adequate ear protection if they are sealed around the ear. Glasses and hair can sometimes get in the way and prevent that from happening. Some people find earmuffs to be less comfortable than earplugs.