Acoustic Shock Caused By Alarms or Sirens

How do we measure sound? And how loud is an alarm? What happens when we take a call where an alarm or siren is ringing at the other end?

What is a Decibel Scale?

The Decibel scale is used to measure the intensity of sound. It is based on a logarithmic scale with multiples of 10. Human perception of sound has a roughly logarithmic response to the intensity of sound. This means that when a sound increases by 10 decibels, it is 10 times louder. This is different from what the ear perceives. The ear will perceive 80 dB twice as loud as 70 dB.


How loud is an alarm?

A fire alarm standard minimum dB is 65dB but can reach up to 120dB and more. 120dB is 37 times louder than 70dB! While 65dB is equivalent to a noisy office, 120dB is the sound of an airplane taking off. Researchers studying hearing loss in the workplace found that people being exposed to noise levels at 85db or higher for prolonged periods of time are at risk of hearing loss.

What is Acoustic Shock?

Acoustic shock is an incident caused by an unexpected loud, high frequency, sound. These sounds include alarms, sirens, fax machine tones or malicious calls. Operators react to the sound with an instinctive startle reflex, symptoms include injuries such as hearing loss, tinnitus and pain to the ear, neck and head. Furthermore fear of sound, as well as hypersensitivity to sound can be experienced.

Have you been affected by an acoustic shock incident? Would you share your experience for the benefit of other readers? Please tell us your story.

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