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AirPods reportedly cause 'permanent hearing loss' during Amber alert — and parents are suing Apple

AirPods Pro vs Samsung Galaxy Buds Pro
(Image credit: Regan Coule/Tom's Guide)

Amber alerts are officially too loud: Parents of a 12-year-old boy reportedly injured while wearing Apple AirPods Pro have sued Apple for $75,000 after they claim an Amber alert caused permanent hearing damage in May of 2020.

According to the parents — Carlos Gordoa and Ariani Reyes of San Antonio, Texas — their son was wearing a pair of AirPods while watching a show on Netflix when the alert went off, causing permanent damage to his right eardrum.

The parents say that their son, identified in the case as B.G. and now 14 years old, has permanent hearing loss in his right ear and will most likely need to wear a hearing aid for the rest of his life.

"B.G. was watching Netflix on his iPhone connected to the AirPods at a low volume when an Amber Alert went off suddenly, and without warning, at a volume that tore apart B.G.'s ear drum, damaged his cochlea, and caused significant injuries to B.G.'s hearing," the lawsuit said.

Along with the permanent physical damage to their son’s ear, the parents claim that their son also experienced "bouts of dizziness, vertigo, and nausea" and emotional damage. 

"Had Apple designed the AirPods to self-adjust to safe levels or provided warnings about the volume increases associated with alerts, this boy would be living a normal life," said the attorney Tej Paranjpe, one of the lawyers representing the family, in a press release to NBC News (opens in new tab).

Key to the lawsuit, the family says Apple knew about the issue from a number of online complaints regarding the volume on AirPods, and yet didn’t attempt to fix the issue.

Apple has yet to comment on the case to other outlets; however, Tom’s Guide has also reached out to see if there’s any update on the case.

Amber alerts deliver crucial information — like if a child has been abducted nearby or if your area will face a severe weather event — though, by default, they play at a high volume. To turn them off, you can go into the settings of an iOS device and select "Notifications". Then scroll down to "Government Alerts" where you can manually disable them. 

It's not recommended, obviously, but parents may want to take advantage of the option after reading what happened to the child in Texas.

Hopefully, this won't be a problem by the time the Apple AirPods Pro 2 arrive.

Nick Pino heads up the TV and AV verticals at Tom's Guide and covers everything from OLED TVs to the latest wireless headphones. He was formerly the Senior Editor, TV and AV at TechRadar (Tom's Guide's sister site) and has previously written for GamesRadar, Official Xbox Magazine, PC Gamer and other outlets over the last decade. Not sure which TV you should buy? Drop him an email or tweet him on Twitter and he can help you out.