SATURDAY, June 20, 2020 (HealthDay News) -- With kids staying at home because of the coronavirus pandemic, it's vitally important to keep guns locked up, advises the American Academy of Pediatrics.
"To keep children safe, you must lock guns in a safe or with gun locks, and store the ammunition in a separate, locked location," said Dr. Alison Tothy, a pediatric emergency medicine physician in Chicago.
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says that gun deaths are one of the top three causes of death among American children: 73 children are injured and 14 die from gun injuries each day.
"It shouldn't be mysterious that gun injury is a leading cause of death among children, because children are curious and constantly exploring, and teenagers are well-known for having poor impulse control, even when maybe they should know better," Tothy said in an academy news release. "When kids make a mistake with a gun, unfortunately, too often there is no second chance to unmake that mistake."
A study previously published in Hospital Pediatrics found that 39% of parents falsely believe their kids did not know where their guns are stored, and 22% believe their kids never touched a gun.
"An unlocked gun is an attractive nuisance around children of any age. One mistake can cause a permanent disability or even death," Tothy noted. "If you can't secure your guns, then you should get them out of your home."
The academy offers these tips for keeping guns away from kids:
Store guns unloaded and locked, with the ammunition locked in a separate place.
Pick a gun storage system that fits your home. There are different types of gun safes and gun safety devices to choose from, including gun locks, trigger locks and lockboxes.
Keep children and teens away from keys or combinations to lock boxes or gun safes.
Gun safety should be part of a safety sweep of your house, the same way you would secure medicines and poisons. Lock up or remove guns to prevent tragedy.
When your child visits another home, ask if there are guns in the home, and how they are stored.
Don't have loaded, unlocked guns in the car.
Tell your kids if they come across a gun to stay away from it and to tell you immediately.
If you can't secure guns in your home, store them outside your home, or consider turning them in through a gun buy-back program.
If you have a teen at risk of suicide, remove all guns and ammunition from your home.
For more on gun safety at home, head to Nationwide Children's Hospital.
SOURCE: American Academy of Pediatrics, news release, June 18, 2020