Noise Pollution in FECs: What you need to know

Family Entertainment Center’s (FEC’s) are very noisy places.  Walking through an arcade, inflatable bouncer room, riding the go karts or even bowling centers are very noisy to visit or work at. Noise pollution is undesired sound that is disruptive or dangerous and can cause harm to life, nature, and property.  The hazardous effects of noise depend on its intensity (loudness in decibels), duration, and frequency (high or low). High and low pitch is more damaging than middle frequencies, and white noise covering the entire frequency spectrum is less harmful than noise of a specific pitch. Noise may be ambient (constantly present in the background) or peak (shorter, louder sounds).

During my travels inspecting FEC’s and Bowling Centers insured through the SterlingRisk Family Entertainment Center Safety Association, I experience some very noisy places.  Inflatable party centers are probably the worst for excessive noise.  The constant noise from the blower motors, sometimes two blower motors per unit, make it almost impossible to carry on any kind of conversation without shouting.  I recently began wearing ear plugs to help combat the constant noise I’m exposed to during the inspection process.

Many locations I visit have done something about this source of noise pollution.  They have enclosed the blower motors in sound insulated containments.  This effectively drops the sound level from about 80 to 85 dB to between 60 and 65 dB.  So instead of listening to sound levels equivalent to a vacuum cleaner you are experiencing sound levels equivalent to normal conversation levels.  This is significant and will reduce noise pollution dramatically.

How Loud Is Too Loud

The following sounds can be identified along with their amplitude as described in decibels (dBs) at

-Threshold of Hearing (TOH) – 0 dB

-Rustling Leaves – 10 dB

-Whisper – 20 dB

-Normal Conversation – 60 dB

-Busy Street Traffic – 70 dB

-Vacuum Cleaner – 80 dB

-Large Orchestra – 98 dB

-Walkman at Maximum Level – 100 dB

-Front Rows of Rock Concert – 110 dB

-Commercial Jet at Takeoff – 120 dB

-Threshold of Pain – 130 dB

The accompanying photos below show how the noise containment boxes are constructed.  The first two were made by the inflatable operator using materials commonly found at local building supply stores.  They are fairly easy to construct and effectively reduced the noise in the FEC bounce room from 79 dB to 63 dB.

Noise Filter External View

Noise Filter External View

Noise Containment Filter Inside View

Noise Filter Inside View

Below is an off the shelf unit by Tool King located inMontclair,CA.  For $500.00 you get the silent box, motor and all hardware, ready to install.  According to the manufacture the noise level will effectively drop from 86 dB to 62 dB.

Silent Box

Silent Box

Protecting the hearing of your patrons, employees and yourself should be high on your priority list.

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