Noise Pollution

Parent Q&A

Dangerously loud fire alarms in schools Oct 16, 2018 (3 responses below)
Airplane noise in Berkeley Feb 23, 2017 (11 responses below)
  • Dangerously loud fire alarms in schools

    (3 replies)

    Does anyone have experience in getting schools to turn down the volume of their dangerously loud fire alarms?  I am looking for advice, literature, personal experience or professional expertise... anything that can help me motivate the school to turn down the alarm volume.  I don't want to have to turn this into a legal battle, I just want the alarms turned down.

    Background: My teen has chronic tinnitus (24 hour a day non-stop ringing in his ears caused by exposure to an explosion).   His tinnitus is exacerbated by loud noise which can also potentially cause more permanent damage to his hearing and permanently louder ringing.   The school tested the sound levels and subsequently admitted to me that the noise level is 35-45 db higher than required by law, but they have not turned them down.  Fire alarms continue to go off at the school for no reason (4x so far in two months which were not planned drills and not in response to fire or smoke) and my child comes home distraught with more intense ringing in his ears.  I resent having to send my child to a school where he is exposed to dangerous conditions.

    Any advice is appreciated.

    Easier solutions to simple problem. Please keep noise-cutting headphones inside his desk at all times. There are announcements before there’s a fire drill conducted in schools and staff has prior information. Inform them of your son’s requirement and am sure they’ll have him with his headphones before the alarm sets off. There are serious downsides to low volume fire alarms as there are kids with hearing problems also. These drills are in place for real emergencies, that can realistically occur anytime. 

    How about equipping him with earplugs or noise canceling headset for these occasions?  They would have to be kept handy to grab, which might take some planning or practice, but with tinnitus it seems helpful to carry earplugs in a pocket. I recommend “sleep leight” for comfort, searchable on amazon. You can still stay in conversation with the school; possibly the parent board could pursue the matter; and your child is protected in the meantime.

    I don't really know anything about fire alarms. But I have a couple of ideas to get things moving. One is to find out about the alarm and how to turn it down. It may simply be that no one has taken the time to read the manual. The other is to figure out who has the power to turn it down. It may be that you are talking to the principal when a side conversation with a maintenance person may be more productive. The third thing is to find other concerned parents. If there is a whole group of you putting it the pressure on, it may help. Good luck!

  • Airplane noise in Berkeley

    (11 replies)

    Visiting Berkeley while house hunting, I noticed a lot of plane noise, both commercial and small plane.  I did a bit of online research and read that the FAA implemented a new process a couple of years ago called NextGen, which has routed flights over many cities in the bay area, including Berkeley.  Is the additional noise impacting quality of life and are there particular places that are more heavily impacted? 

    RE: Airplane noise in Berkeley ()

    So far as I can tell, airplane noise isn't a big complaint in Berkeley. In normal weather, flights coming into the Oakland Airport approach from the south, which puts a major portion of their approach over the Bay. When it's stormy weather, flights approach from the north, which has them coming over Berkeley and Oakland.

    RE: Airplane noise in Berkeley ()

    It is really only during rainy weather that airplane noise is a problem. During the rain, planes are routed over the Berkeley, Kensington, El Cerrito hills. Apparently this route is safer for the plane when there is low visibility due to cloud cover.

    RE: Airplane noise in Berkeley ()

    My understanding is that the planes are only routed over Berkeley when it is overcast and/ or raining. The noise has never been a problem for me personally,

    but I am definitely uncomfortable with the idea of jet fuel in the atmosphere and the possible environmental and health impact. I have been wondering if the Berkeley/ Kensington area residents have a say in this and if we could prevent the FAA from forcing this on us. I would be interested to hear what other people think. Thanks!