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6/21/22blog post

can your kids access firearms?

find out how the A.S.K. initiative saves lives

how do I ask questions about firearms?

Tragedy makes headlines again this month. Officials say a Dayton toddle shot and killed himself with a gun found in a home. He was 2 years old.

As parents and caregivers, we ask all sorts of questions before our child goes to a friend’s house.  We may ask about allergies, pets, diet restrictions, supervision, internet access, and more. Dayton Children’s wants you to add one more question to your list: “If you have firearms, do you keep them locked up?”

Even if a firearm is stored out of sight, children are not out of danger if it isn’t stored safely. One out of every three homes with children has a gun, and even if you think they don’t know where it is, studies show that children as young as five years old know where to find them. At Dayton Children’s, 37 children were seen in the emergency department for gunshot wounds in 2021.  One-third of these children were 12-years-old and younger. 

why should I ask questions about firearms? 

According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, more than one-third of unintentional shootings of children happen in other people’s homes. Asking how firearms are stored is critical and could save a life. Many parents and caregivers understand the consequences of this issue but are unsure of how to start the conversation with other adults in charge. To help families navigate these conversations, pediatricians and child safety advocates across the United States have been using the ASK (Asking Saves Kids) initiative as a guide. In honor of ASK Day on June 21, we are encouraging parents and caregivers to ask about unlocked firearms in the homes their children visit. With a few minutes of preparation ahead of time, create a plan of action by using the following tips: 

1.  Learn about safer storage and why it’s important. Use these resources for the  most up-to-date information: 

2. Prepare your script. Decide who to ask, how to ask, and how to respond to different answers. Figure out who you’re most comfortable talking to among the adults in charge and ask your questions before the visit. The conversation can be held face-to-face, on the phone, or over a text message.  Here are some common scenarios and examples of how you can ask your questions: 

  • Parents dropping off their kids for a playdate: “My kid is pretty curious, and our doctor recommended that I ask — is there an unlocked gun where my child will play?” 
  • Teens taking their first babysitting job: “Is there an unlocked and/or loaded gun in your home?” 

3. Talk to your children. Teach children to not touch guns and to find an adult right away if they do find one. 

4. If you have firearms in your home, ensure they are stored safely.  For help locating a lock, visit Project Child Safe to find the site nearest you that provides locks for free. 

Abbey Pettiford

Injury Prevention Coordinator
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