Safe Storage of Firearms and Medications

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Accidental Firearm Injuries

Recent statistics highlight the urgency of addressing accidental firearm injuries in children. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) data from 2022, firearms continue to be the No.1 cause of death in kids ages 1 to 17 years old for the third year in a row. In Kentucky, an average of 56 children and teens die by guns every year. But you can protect your loved ones with responsible firearm storage.

Safe Firearm Storage

The CDC reported that half of the unintentional firearm injury deaths among children and adolescents occurred at home; playing with or showing the firearm to another person was the most common precipitating event. The firearms used in unintentional injury deaths were often stored both loaded and unlocked and were often found in nightstands or other sleeping areas. Unintentional firearm injury deaths are preventable. Securing firearms is the best way to protect against unintentional injuries among children and teenagers.

  1. Unload and lock.

Always unload guns when they are not in use, and lock the unloaded firearm with a trigger lock or store it in a safe or lock box out of sight and out of reach of children. Keep the ammunition separate from the firearms in a secure locked location.

  1. Invest in a gun locking device.

Secure your unloaded firearm. Gun locking devices include cable locks, trigger locks, lock boxes and gun safes. Various security features can be used including biometric locks and number combinations. Using one of these devices prevents the gun from being fired and acts as an additional barrier to curious children.

  1. Educate your family.

Children are naturally curious. Teach them that guns are not toys and should never be touched without adult supervision. Tell children to alert an adult immediately if they come across a firearm or ammunition. It is important to reinforce this message frequently as the child grows.

  1. Ask about guns.

As of 2021, 54.6% of adults in Kentucky have a firearm in their home. Find out if guns are present and how they are stored in the homes of relatives, friends and caregivers before your child visits their home. Asking about firearm storage can be a sensitive topic, but it is necessary to keep your child safe when you are not around.

  1. Ask for help.

If you are worried that your child or someone else may be struggling with mental health issues or is suicidal, help is available. Call 988 for the Suicide and Crisis Lifeline.

Medication Ingestions

Equally concerning is the accidental ingestion of medication by children. Each year, Poison Control Centers in the United States receive over 1 million calls due to accidental poisoning of young children. The CDC reports around 35,000 children less than 5 years old are brought to emergency departments each year because they ingested a medication they were not supposed to take. On average, a child is rushed to the emergency room every 9 minutes because of an accidental ingestion of medication. These numbers indicate the importance of secure medication storage.

Safe Medication Storage

  1. Keep medications out of sight and reach.

Store all medications, including over the counter, prescription drugs, vitamins, supplements, edibles, and vape cartridges in their original packages out of reach and out of sight of children. Consider using high cabinets where the child cannot reach or see. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends purchasing a medication lock box as an even more secure way to store medicines, vitamins, and edibles.

  1. Put medicine away after every dose.

Never leave medication out on the counter, even if the next dose is due in a few hours. Set a reminder in your phone or use sticky notes to serve as a reminder for the next dose.

  1. Educate guests.

Ensure all of your child’s caregivers are aware of safe medication storage practices so your child can be safe even when you are not home. Ask family members and visitors to keep purses, bags, coats and other items containing medicine up, away and out of sight when they are in your home.

  1. Be prepared.

Call the Kentucky Poison Control Center of Norton Children’s Hospital immediately if you think your child has taken medicine or vitamins, even if you are not completely sure. Store the number, (800) 222-1222, in your phone so it’s there if you need it.

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