Every seven-and-a-half hours a child or a teen is killed by a gun, either by accident or suicide. But these frightening statistics don’t have to continue. Parents and caregivers can do a lot to keep their children safe from injury […]
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5 Ways to Practice Gun Safety with Your Children

by Jessa McClure on July 15, 2014

in Safety

gunEvery seven-and-a-half hours a child or a teen is killed by a gun, either by accident or suicide. But these frightening statistics don’t have to continue. Parents and caregivers can do a lot to keep their children safe from injury or death.

McLane Children’s Scott & White Trauma Outreach and Injury Prevention Supervisor, Susan Burchfield, offers some helpful tips to keep kids out of danger.

1. Make sure your child knows what to do if they come across a gun

“It’s important for parents to realize and understand that kids may come across a gun in a variety of places and situations,” Ms. Burchfield said.

Explain to your child that if they come across a gun at a friend’s home or anywhere else, that they should not touch the gun, leave the area, and tell an adult immediately.

2. Store your firearms responsibly

If you choose to have a gun in your home—whether that’s a handgun or a hunting rifle—it is important to keep it out of the hands of your children.

“Make sure the gun is always locked, always kept unloaded and the bullets stored separately from the gun in a separate locked container,” she said.

If you need a gun lock, the Scott & White Injury Prevention office has some available. Local law enforcement entities might also have gun locks available for gun owners.

“Don’t ever be misled into thinking that you can hide a gun from a child,” Ms. Burchfield said. “As many as 80 percent of first and second graders know where their parents’ gun is kept. If they have a friend over, that might be the first place they want to show off.”

3. Inquire about gun safety away from home

If your child is going to play at a friend’s house, spend the night or even go to stay with a grandparent or family member, it is important to ask the adult in charge whether or not there is a gun in the home and if it is stored safely.

A child as young as three has the finger strength to pull a trigger, and the consequences of leaving a gun within reach of a child could be deadly.

“Don’t expect that a gun hidden under a mattress or in the bedside table is going to be safe from a child,” she said. “They’ve got to be up, out of reach, out of the way and totally locked up.”

4. Talk to your kids about the difference between video games and reality

While shooting zombies and enemy soldiers on video games can be a fun activity for children, it might also confuse them about the difference between shooting a virtual gun and a real one.

“Kids need to be taught the difference between what they see acted out on TV, in movies and on video games versus real violence, real injury and real death,” the injury prevention specialist said. “They have to understand that these are not toys; that they are serious weapons and can cause serious injury.”

5. Supervise, supervise, supervise

Most injuries and death related to children happen when the child is not being supervised. Children are inquisitive, especially when something is considered off limits. So, make sure that you know what your children are doing and that your firearms are locked and unloaded.

“If you are going to have access to guns, then everyone—adults and children—must be aware and trained about the safe use and storage,” Ms. Burchfield said. “These are dangerous pieces of equipment that have the potential to create damage, injury or death. But they can be used in a responsible way.”

For more information about gun safety and injury prevention, please visit our website for more gun safety tips or healthychildren.org.

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