The safest home for a child is a home without a gun. Every day, 78 children, teens and young adults are injured or killed by guns in the U.S. If a gun is present at home, parents can reduce the chances of children being injured by following some important safety rules:
Store guns and ammunition safely
- Store guns in a locked location, unloaded, out of the reach and sight of children.
- Store ammunition in a separate locked location, out of the reach and sight of children.
- Keep the keys and combinations hidden.
- Any time a gun is not in its lock box, keep it in your line of sight.
- Make sure all guns are equipped with effective, child-resistant gun locks.
- If a visitor has a gun in a backpack, briefcase, handbag or an unlocked car, provide them with a locked place to store it while they are in your home.
When a gun is in use
- Keep the safety catch in place until you are ready to fire it.
- Before setting the gun down, always unload it.
- As much as a child may want to take a turn shooting, this is not a good idea. No matter how much instruction you may give about how to safely shoot a gun, children are not capable or responsible enough to handle a potentially lethal weapon.
Talk to your children
- Remind your kids that if they ever come across a gun, they must stay away from it and tell you about it immediately.
- Monitor as best you can what television shows and video games your child is exposed to and make sure they are age appropriate.
- Explain how a gun your kids might see on television or a video game is different from a gun in real life.
- Even if you don’t have guns in your own home, ask about guns and safe storage at other homes your children visit. More than a third of all unintentional shootings of children take place in the homes of their friends, neighbors or relatives.
Debra L. Schwiers, MD is a pediatrician with Carolina Pediatrics of Greenville. Learn more about Carolina Pediatrics of Greenville or find another Prisma Health pediatrician near your work or home at ghschildrens.org/pediatricians. You also can call 1-844-447-3627 for help connecting with a pediatrician.
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