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Fireworks Vs. Gunshots? Even The Experts Can't Tell The Difference

By Patty Wetli | June 9, 2015 11:02am | Updated on June 27, 2016 12:36pm
 Fireworks in Winnemac Park.
Fireworks in Winnemac Park.
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DNAinfo/Patty Wetli

ALBANY PARK — It's that time of year again — the week before the Fourth of July, when community Facebook pages become clogged with posts asking, "Was that fireworks or gunshots?"

How to tell the difference?

Short answer: It's really difficult.

An online search will turn up plenty of discussion about fireworks' "pop" versus gunshots' "crack" and there's a popular YouTube video that attempts to demonstrate the audio difference between the two.

If your sense of hearing fails, try smelling: fireworks tend to reek of sulfur.

But short of eyeballing the source of the noise, police officers from California to Minneapolis say distinguishing between the two sounds is challenging even for experts.

Over the weekend, a man in Pennsylvania was found shot to death. Neighbors heard the shots but said they didn't call police because they assumed the sound was fireworks.

Bottom line, police say: If you think you hear something that could be gunshots, call 911.

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