Gun shot wounds in children

Every day, almost 20 children or teens are hospitalized in the United States after being injured according to a recent study in the journal Pediatrics. The research team analyzed 7,391 hospitalizations in 2009 using the Kids’ Inpatient Database.

Despite national trends of decreasing rates of firearm-related injuries, Le Bonheur has seen an increasing number in the last two years. In 2010 and 2011, the hospital treated fewer than 20 children a year with gun-shot wounds. The number increased to around 40 in 2012 and 2013. Emergency Department Medical Director Barry Gilmore offers his suggestions to how to keep children safe from guns.

“First of all, the best way to prevent a firearm-related injury is to not have a gun in your home. Children do not understand how dangerous guns can be, despite parents’ warnings,” said Gilmore.

Also, don’t be afraid to ask about guns in the homes of your children’s friends or family members, Gilmore says. Ask if there is a gun in the home. Where is it located? Are the bullets and gun stored in separate places?

Here are some safety tips from Safe Kids Mid-South:

Store Guns and Ammunition Safely

  • 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.
  • Leaving guns on a nightstand, table or other place where a child can gain access may lead to injuries and fatalities.

Talk to Your Kids and Their Caregivers

  • Explain how a gun your kids might see on television or a video game is different from a gun in real life. “A gun, in real life, can really hurt people."
  • Teach kids never to touch a gun and to immediately tell an adult if they see one.
  • Talk to grandparents and the parents of friends your children visit about safe gun storage practices.

Dispose of Guns You Don't Need

If you decide that you no longer need to have a gun in your home, dispose of it in a safe way. Consult with law enforcement in your community on how to do so.

prevention, safety