The best way to protect your kids from injury and death due to firearms is to keep your home free of guns and steer clear of households where guns are kept.
If you do own a firearm, be sure that these rules are followed in your home (and, if applicable, the homes of relatives or friends that your child visits):
- Store guns in a securely locked case out of kids' reach. All firearms should be stored unloaded and in the uncocked position.
- Store ammunition in a separate place and in a securely locked container out of kids' reach.
- Keep keys where kids can't find them.
- Always use trigger locks or other childproof devices. Make revolvers childproof by attaching a padlock so that the cylinder can't be locked into place.
- Always practice gun safety, and be sure to emphasize to kids that guns aren't toys and should never be played with.
- Teach kids not to touch guns and tell an adult if they find one.
- Take a firearm safety course to learn the safe and correct way to use your firearm.
- Lock up gun-cleaning supplies, which are often poisonous.
If you're expecting a baby or you already have a child, it's a good idea to:
- Learn cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) and the Heimlich maneuver.
- Keep the following numbers near the phone (for yourself and caregivers):
- toll-free poison-control number: 1-800-222-1222
- doctor's number
- parents' work and cell phone numbers
- neighbor's or nearby relative's number (if you need someone to watch other children in an emergency)
- Make a first-aid kit and keep emergency instructions inside.
- Install smoke detectors and carbon monoxide detectors.
Maintaining a Safe, Kid-Friendly Environment
To check your childproofing efforts, get down on your hands and knees in every room of your home to see things from a child's perspective. Be aware of your child's surroundings and what might be potentially dangerous.
Completely childproofing your home can be difficult. If you can't childproof the entire house, you can shut the doors (and install doorknob covers) to any room a child shouldn't enter to prevent wandering into places that haven't been properly childproofed. For sliding doors, doorknob covers and childproof locks are also great for keeping little ones from leaving your home. Of course, how much or how little you childproof your home is up to you. Supervision is the very best way to help prevent kids from getting injured. However, even the most vigilant parent can't keep a child 100% safe at all times.
Whether you have a baby, toddler, or school-age child, your home should be a haven where your little one can explore safely. After all, touching, holding, climbing, and exploring are the activities that develop your child's body and mind.
Reviewed by: Mary L. Gavin, MD
Date reviewed: February 2010