By the time late summer rolls around, it’s easy to tell that my yard isn’t my biggest priority. Weeds tend to flourish because my wife and I use chemicals sparingly and the time I have to yank them out is limited. The lawn has also lost some of its luster; a bag of fertilizer sits in the garage and my watering schedule is erratic.
But there is one part of yard care that I get right, and it carries greater rewards than weed-free flower beds or a putting-green caliber lawn: hearing protection. Whether you’re running a push mower, lawn tractor, or practically any other piece of yard equipment—power blowers come readily to mind—you need to protect your ears from the aural assault of gear that generates noise levels that can easily exceed those of city traffic.
The National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders warns that prolonged exposure to any noise above 85 dBA for as briefly as 30 minutes can cause gradual hearing loss. Despite manufacturer claims of reduced noise, all the gas mowers and tractors in our recent report ran at or above 85 dBA.
I use the earmuff variety of hearing protection; I keep one pair in the basement for indoor work and another one in the garage, near the mower. It doesn’t matter which type of protection you use, as long as it’s rated for the noise level of the activity you’re doing and you closely follow instructions.—Ed Perratore
Essential information: Learn how to protect yourself from hearing loss.