HUNTSVILLE, Ala. - Police say that knowing the difference between fireworks and gunshots can save your life, but it can also help keep law enforcement more efficient during the 4th of July festivities.
One of the reasons many of us love this holiday is because of the fireworks.
But Lt. Michael Johnson, Huntsville Police spokesman, said that last Independence Day HPD answered more than 200 calls for service that included fireworks and shots fired calls. That is a higher volume than they could see in a typical 3-month span.
Lt. Johnson said when people call 911 and can not tell the dispatchers whether they heard fireworks, or gunshots, patrol officers lose efficiency as they work to figure out where the real emergencies are.
We talked to Senior Trooper Chuck Daniel, who is a member of the Public Information Unit of the Alabama Law Enforcement Agency, about how you can tell the difference.
"There's an obvious difference if you've ever been around them," he stated. "There's more concussion, there's more volume, to a gunshot."
Daniel added, "The timing between each pop is considerably less [with a firework] than most gunfire."
Daniel noted that you should look at your surroundings if you hear a noise and you aren't sure.
"If you don't trust what you hear, move away," he said. "If you're in a crowd, and that happens, I would not stand around to see what it is. I would move my family away from that."
At a big public fireworks event, or a backyard party on the 4th, Daniel said, "Expect fireworks. It's the fourth of July."
But he quickly recommended that you know an escape route if there's trouble, and use it if you feel unsafe.
"Should there be an extra level of awareness on events that could happen? Maybe. But I wouldn't let that hinder going out and enjoying the holiday," Daniel said.