Firearm safety in your home
Though most parents are careful with their children about car seats, seat belts, and keeping poisons out of reach, many don’t know about proper firearm safety. Wounds from firearms are the second leading cause of fatal injury in children.
Many people also don’t realize that some adult members of their household might also be at risk for a firearm injury. The best prevention is to know the facts and follow some simple safety tips.
Recognize people at risk for firearm mishaps
Firearms should be kept out of the reach of the following people:
- Teenagers, especially those who are angry or depressed
- Anyone who is depressed, suicidal, mentally ill, emotionally unstable, or suffering from dementia (such as Alzheimer’s Disease)
- Anyone who is abusive to others or abusing alcohol or drugs
Keep firearms out of reach
The best way to prevent firearm mishaps is to not own guns. However, if you do choose to keep one or more firearms, here are some safety tips:
- Keep firearms unloaded and locked away.
- Make sure a responsible adult keeps the key to the locked firearms.
- Keep the locked firearms separate from the bullets.
- Consider using gun locks.
Talk to your children and your children’s friends about firearm safety
- Teach your children not to touch a firearm if they find one, even if they’re not sure if it’s real or a toy.
- Instruct your children to avoid anyone playing with a firearm.
- If they encounter a friend playing with a firearm, they should tell an adult.
- If your child is going to visit a friend or stay with a baby-sitter, ask the parents if there are firearms in the home, and if so, if they are unloaded and locked up.
Work to keep violence out of your home
Children learn from the adults around them. They may be less apt to get into trouble with firearms if nonviolence is modeled in the home. Many families model nonviolence by:
- Solving problems with peaceful discussion and respect rather than anger and physical violence.
- Not allowing children to watch violent TV shows or movies, or play with violent video games or toy weapons.
American Academy of Family Physicians
Last reviewed June 2002 by
Please be aware that this information is provided to supplement the care provided by your physician. It is neither intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. CALL YOUR HEALTHCARE PROVIDER IMMEDIATELY IF YOU THINK YOU MAY HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to starting any new treatment or with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.
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