With childhood gun-related injuries reaching levels indicative of a public health crisis, recent studies have found that an estimated one-third of homes in the United States with children have guns, many of which are being stored loaded and unlocked. Safe firearm storage practices are imperative to prevent further incidents of injury or even death. A recent article published in the Journal of Pediatric Health Care used an established curriculum for improving gun safety within the family to collect data on its effectiveness within a community institution.
Instilling a heightened awareness of the dangers that unsafely stored firearms pose to children is critical to protect families from firearm injuries. Health care providers can take steps to make impactful changes by incorporating a few questions during the primary care visit. By doing so, providers can protect and save lives by using and recommending the Asking Saves Kids (ASK) questionnaire. The ASK questionnaire comprises four categorical questions and is straightforward in determining if there are guns where children play while also being a powerful teaching tool.
Millions of households have adopted the ASK campaign, which has effectively empowered parents to ask if there is a gun where their child plays. By encouraging such questions about unlocked or loaded guns in the home, there is the chance to prevent the risk of children accessing improperly stored firearms and create a forum for a conversation to ensure that children are safe.
“This is America, a country in which firearms are the No. 1 cause of death in children,” said Elizabeth G. Choma, DNP, MSN, RN, CPNP-PC, author of the article.
Anticipatory guidance by pediatric health care providers is crucial when addressing the growing firearm crisis. Providers can encourage their patient families to receive firearm safety education and recommend simple intervention strategies such as the ASK campaign. The data from this article concluded that such steps of supporting education on safe firearm storage are an inexpensive and effective intervention for improving firearm safety behaviors within families.
The article “¬A Community Educational Intervention to Improve Firearm Safety Behaviors in Families” was published in the July/August edition of the Journal of Pediatric Health Care and can be accessed here.
July 25, 2023