To keep your family safe, it is important to talk with each family member – and especially children – about gun safety. Even if you don’t have a gun in your home, your friends or neighbors might own guns.
And with a growing number of Americans choosing to own guns, it is increasingly likely that your family members will eventually come into direct contact with a gun.
With these facts in mind, here is some advice about gun safety as well as the safe handling of guns.
Talking to your child about gun safety
It’s important to talk with your child about gun safety in case he or she comes into a situation in which a gun is present. To guide a child into making the right decision so that an accident does not occur, teach your child to take the following four steps when in the presence of a gun:
- Stop. Do not approach the gun
- Do not touch the gun
- Remove yourself from the area
- Tell an adult
It's important to stress all four steps because just the first two steps are not enough. Your child needs to remove him or herself from the area in case another child gets a hold of the gun and accidentally pulls the trigger. It has been shown that a child as young as age three has the finger strength necessary to pull a gun’s trigger. Finally, it is important for the child to tell an adult about the location of the gun. It's even better if the adult knows how to safely handle a firearm.
Safety measures to take if you have a gun in your home
Families who have guns in their home need to teach family members, especially children, to use guns safely and responsibly. To ensure the safest environment for your family:
- Take the ammunition out of the gun.
- Lock the gun and keep it out of the reach of children.
- Lock the ammunition and store it apart from the gun.
- Store the keys for the gun and the ammunition in an area separate from where the household keys are stored. Keep the keys out of reach of children.
- Lock up the gun-cleaning supplies, which are often poisonous.
Finally, if you own a gun or have found one in your home and want to dispose of it, call your local police department (but do not dial the emergency 911 phone number).
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This information is provided by the Cleveland Clinic and is not intended to replace the medical advice of your doctor or health care provider. Please consult your health care provider for advice about a specific medical condition. This document was last reviewed on: 2/12/2013...#9498