How to Use Ear Plugs

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Earplugs are designed to be placed inside the ear canal to protect the wearer from the damaging effects of excessive noise, or to block the entrance of water, wind, dirt or debris. They are made from a variety of materials, from foam to wax to rubber, are disposable or non-disposable and offer a wide range of protection levels. To learn how to use an assortment of earplugs, read on.

Things You'll Need

  • Foam earplugs Plastic earplugs Wax or putty ear plugs Earmuffs Flight earplugs Cotton balls Petroleum jelly
  • Insert memory foam earplugs by holding the plug between your thumb and index finger. Squeeze the earplug and roll it between the two digits, compressing the foam. Place the earplug into your ear canal. As the foam begins to expand, it will conform to the shape of your ear, sealing the canal and blocking out or muffling surrounding noises. Keep the earplug from pushing out of the canal as it expands by applying light pressure on the end for 10 seconds or so.

  • Use plastic or rubber earplugs. These work in a similar manner as memory foam, but are longer lasting as you can wash them with soap and water after use. To use these plugs made of soft silicon, slightly angle the tip of the plug towards your nose and slide it into the ear canal as far as it will comfortably go. To get a seal, wiggle the protruding end a bit while giving the plug a gentle push. Once seated, silicon earplugs will allow the wearer to hear the voices of those around while blocking out dangerously loud sounds.

  • Get a pair of molded ear plugs. These are commonly made from wax or putty. To use molded plugs, pinch off a portion of the plug material and roll it into a ball. Place the ball over the entrance to the ear canal. Flatten the material over the opening, pressing firmly with your thumb to ensure the creation of a good seal. Do not push the material into the ear canal; use it only to cover the opening. With proper use, molded ear plugs will provide you with re-usable, waterproof, noise reducing ear protection.

  • If you're uncomfortable with the thought of inserting something into your ear, try a set of noise blocking earmuffs . To use them, simply place the large, noise reducing cups over your ears and put them in the best position by adjusting the headband. Earmuffs are available in a wide variety of styles, offering various levels of noise reduction.

  • Put in flight ear plugs before your next plane trip. These bear a strong resemblance to silicon rubber ear plugs, and are inserted and used the same way. However, they contain a ceramic core that helps reduce the air pressure changes generated by rapid altitude changes during takeoff and landing.

  • Make your own earplugs. Coat a cotton ball with petroleum jelly and insert it into the ear canal. This type of homemade ear plug blocks out most background noises and has the added benefit of preventing water from entering the ears.

Tips & Warnings

  • Wearing earplugs anytime you're exposed to noise above a level that allows normal conversation can help prevent long-term loss of hearing. Situations where you should consider hearing protection include operating a lawn mower or other lawn and garden power equipment, attending a loud concert, and any occupational exposure that involves loud machinery.

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