Fireworks or Gunshots? (Here’s How to Tell the Difference)

difference between fireworks and gunshots

Fireworks are loud and unavoidable, especially during holiday celebrations like New Year’s Eve and the Fourth of July. Unfortunately, during these times, people also celebrate by shooting guns as well. How do you tell the difference between gunshots and fireworks, though?

In general, you can tell the difference between fireworks and gunshots by their sound patterns. Fireworks make more of a crackling sound and an echo. Fireworks also have a more random sound pattern when fired. Gunshots, however, have a regular, consistent sound pattern with fewer echoes.

It’s easy to confuse the sounds that gunshots and fireworks make. In this blog post, we’ll try to clear up any confusion by providing you with some helpful tips on distinguishing between these sounds to help keep you safe.

This post contains affiliate links. This means Yard Blogger may earn a commission should you make a purchase using any of our links. Please refer to our full affiliate disclosure policy for full details.

Here’s a Quick Pro Tip!

It can be terrifying if you live in a neighborhood where people constantly shoot guns and fireworks to celebrate. Protecting yourself and your family with something like bulletproof vests could one day save lives.

It’s also smart to invest in shatterproof security film for your windows. If a stray bullet does ever come near your house, having something like this in place could save lives.

You can find both the bulletproof vests and shatterproof security window film over at Amazon.

How to Tell the Difference Between Fireworks and Gunshots

You can tell the difference between fireworks and gunshots by the pattern of their sounds. 

As you may have observed from watching a fireworks spectacle, you would likely hear crackling or whizzing sounds once the fireworks explode in the air. On the other hand, gunshots have a quick succession of “pops” described to be crisp or sharp.

You can also tell by watching for any signs of smoke, which you will likely see once fireworks go off. 

On the other hand, you likely won’t see the smoke if a gun has been fired. In this case, it would be best to call the police and report shots fired.

Fireworks vs Gunshots: Can You Tell the Difference?

Between fireworks and gunshots, it’s hard to tell the difference if you’ve never heard an actual gunshot before. To the untrained ear, the sound is the same. It is possible, however, to tell the difference if you know what to look for.

The sound of a gunshot may be a lot different from what you would hear in movies. It can also be pretty hard to tell the difference once active shooting is involved.

When someone can’t tell the difference between these sounds, they usually make erroneous reports to the police. 

Reporting gunshots to law enforcement by mistake is a common occurrence. As a member of your community, it’s good to know how to distinguish the sounds for safety reasons.

Nevertheless, police always encourage people to report a popping or crackling sound even if they’re unsure of the source. The police will be ready to go to you to investigate the matter. After all, it’s better to be safe than sorry.

What Does a Gunshot Sound Like From Inside a House?

In general, a gunshot sound from inside a house would be deafening to your ears. The sound of shots fired from inside the house would be so loud that it would knock you out of your senses.

The super loud sound can cause ringing in your ears because it was concentrated and produced indoors. If you own a gun, you wouldn’t want to make the mistake of firing it inside your home without ear protection, as this can result in noise-induced hearing loss.

But what if you heard a gunshot that fired from inside the home. Would you be able to tell the difference between gunshot vs. fireworks sound? 

If a gun is fired indoors, the loud, sharp pop will be even more pronounced. This should warrant a call to the police as someone could be hurt. In that case, it’s best to call it in.

How to Know If You Heard a Gunshot?

You’ll know that you heard a gunshot by observing what happens soon after. If you hear additional gunshots, someone may be returning fire. People screaming or sirens wailing is also a quick indicator you likely heard a gunshot. 

As mentioned earlier, it may be hard to distinguish both sounds, but what happens after the sound is produced can be a giveaway.

For instance, you may hear screaming after the shots were fired and then see people frantically running around. People may yell or cry for help loudly in this situation. So, pay close attention to the environment and how people reacted to the sound.

Another giveaway is if you can hear sirens blaring everywhere. You may see police cars speeding or paramedics rushing to the scene. And a dead giveaway (pun unintended) that it was a gunshot is if you see a body on the ground. 

At the time it happened, you may have suspected it to be gunshots. But once you see police or paramedics nearby, that will likely be your confirmation.

Do Gunshots Echo?

Gunshots do echo when fired. Gunshot echos are less discernible compared to the echoes of fireworks. 

All sounds produce an echo – it just depends on the environment where the sound is produced.

People say that a striking difference between fireworks and gunshots is that gunshots do not produce an echo, but in reality, they do. The echo may not have been noticeable because the deafening sound of the gunshot was overpowering it. 

Also, depending on where the shot was fired, an echo can be minimal or loud enough to be heard. If a gun was fired near a solid object such as a building or indoors, then you might hear the echo better. Keep in mind that when firing a gun from indoors to always wear hearing protection.

On the other hand, fireworks pop and explode high above in the air with buildings surrounding the area. In that case, some objects can reflect the sound, so you hear the echo better.

The sound of a gunshot can vary based on several factors such as:

  • Type of gun used
  • Barrel length
  • Shell size
  • If a silencer is being used

How Can You Tell Gunshots From Fireworks?

You can tell gunshots from fireworks based on their sound patterns. Gunshots typically have a uniform sound pattern and happen within quick succession. They also do not echo as much as fireworks.

Telling a gunshot from a firework can be very difficult for most people. However, the best thing to note is how authorities describe gunshot sounds, which is sharp.

Gunshot sounds also have a uniform sound pattern to them – a succession of pops. If you hear a “pop” instead of a “bang,” then it’s most likely a gunshot. 

Still, you have to keep in mind that there are different gun makes and models that it’s hard to pinpoint the sound of each kind.

Meanwhile, there are several types of fireworks, and each one makes a unique sound. Some would whistle, while others would give a loud boom at the end. 

Both gunshots and fireworks use gunpowder, so that’s another factor that makes it hard to distinguish them.

What Should You Do If You Think You Heard a Gunshot?

If you think you heard a gunshot, don’t hesitate to call 911. It always pays to be alert so you can make life-saving decisions.

Still, your reaction will depend on where you live. For instance, it’s highly likely for you to hear gunshots from hunters or target shooters in rural areas. Meanwhile, if you live in areas where it’s rare to hear gunshots, you might need to call the police if you do.

If you heard a gunshot in your neighborhood or the city, here’s what you can do:

  • Ensure your safety; take cover and do not stay near windows. Or better yet, move to the center of the house or any spot without windows.
  • Phone the police from where you are

Hopefully, you won’t get into this kind of situation, but it’s always wise to be wary of your surroundings. 

I hear Fireworks or Gunshots Near Me

If you hear fireworks or gunshots near you and you feel unsafe, call 911 immediately. While it could just be someone shooting fireworks, staying safe is the top priority.

If I heard fireworks or gunshots near me, I would have a hard time telling the difference as well. One thing is for sure; I will surely be on my guard and ready to call it in.

Nevertheless, if you feel unsafe and certain something is up with the gunshot you just heard, call the police immediately.

How Loud Is a Gunshot Compared to a Firework?

Depending on the type of gun used, gunshot sounds can be so loud that they reach decibel levels anywhere between 145 and 160 dB. The sound is loud enough to cause hearing loss. 

For comparison on the decibel level, the sound from a handgun is 166 dB, while fireworks are at 162 dB.

Fireworks are already considered loud, but since they explode high above in the air and are usually far from people, they don’t sound as loud.

Things That Sound Like Fireworks

If you’ve always wondered, “do gunshots sound like fireworks,” then you might have also asked what other objects produce the same sound. 

Since it’s usually difficult to tell, it might be a good idea to familiarize yourself with objects that produce the same sound, like gunshots or fireworks.

For fireworks, some of the things that sound like them are:

  • Thunder
  • Bombs
  • Car backfiring

Things That Sound Like Gunshots

It’s also easy to mistake other sounds for gunshots. Similarly, you will need to at least familiarize yourself a bit with the sounds so you’ll have a clue whether it was a gunshot or something else. 

The abovementioned sounds can also be likened to gunshots. Some fireworks even sound like machine guns, making it all the more difficult to distinguish the sounds.

Fireworks That Sound Like a Machine Gun

Fireworks that are strung together and will go off one after another will sound almost like a machine gun. These will come out during holidays, and you most probably have heard of it before.

If it’s New Year’s Eve or the Fourth of July, you may have heard loud sounds that resemble those coming from a machine gun. That would likely be fireworks, specifically the likes of a Sky King 8000 Roll.

Conclusion: How to Tell the Difference Between Gunshots and Fireworks

Sounds from gunshots and fireworks are almost identical. To someone who hasn’t heard gunshots in their life, it’s easy to mistake the sound for fireworks. 

You need to remember that gunshot sounds are sharp and rhythmic, while fireworks sounds are random and sometimes accompanied by whistling and crackling noises. 

And, of course, you’ll be expecting a visual display of smoke when fireworks are launched.

The takeaway here is that if you’re unsure whether you heard gunshots or fireworks be ready to call the police. 

Remember that the authorities would rather you call it in and be safe instead of dismissing it and potentially risking the safety of yourself and others.