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Keep Kids Safe from Firearms

From Julie Noble, Child Advocacy Program Coordinator and Safe Kids SWFL Coordinator at Golisano Children’s Hospital of Southwest Florida.

May is National Trauma Awareness Month.

In 1988, Ronald Reagan established May as the national awareness month to increase education and activities to prevent trauma.

Each year, the American Trauma Society (ATS) selects a new focus for injury and violence prevention and awareness. This year, the ATS has chosen firearm injury prevention.

At Lee Health, we have a child advocacy department within Golisano Children’s Hospital that reaches out into the community to educate as many families as possible about injury prevention, including gun safety. 

Children as young as 3 years old may be strong enough to pull the trigger of a handgun. Three out of four children living in a house with a gun know where the gun is, even when their parents think they don’t know.  

You need to ensure you’re storing guns and ammunition safely by doing the following:

  • Store guns in a locked location, unloaded, out of the reach and sight of children
  • Store ammunition in a separate locked location, out of the reach and sight of children
  • Keep the keys and combinations hidden
  • When a gun is not in its lock box, keep it in your line of sight
  • Make sure all guns are equipped with effective, child-resistant gun locks
  • If a visitor has a gun in a backpack, briefcase, handbag or an unlocked car, provide them with a locked place to hold it while they are in your home
  • Don’t leave guns on a nightstand, table or other place where a child can gain access to them

You should also talk to your children about guns by explaining how a gun they might see on television or in a video game is different from a gun in real life. Make sure they understand a gun in real life can really hurt or kill people.

Teach kids never to touch a gun and to immediately tell an adult if they see one. Also, talk to grandparents and the parents of friends your children visit about safe gun storage practices.

The Child Advocacy team at Golisano Children’s Hospital provides education through community classes, one-on-one sessions, family events and health fairs, and at our patients’ bedside. Child advocates deliver resources to families residing in Lee, Collier, Charlotte, Hendry and Glades counties. Golisano Children’s Hospital is also the lead agency for Safe Kids Coalition of Southwest Florida.

For more information about our programs and injury prevention, please call 239-343-5224 or visit www.leehealth.org.