With hunting season on the way, sportsmen and women are getting their gear ready.
However, it is important to keep children safe from the dangers of firearms and other weapons stored in the home. “Children must be taught that these are not play things,” said Michael Fetterolf, MD, ThedaCare Physicians-New London. “Children as young as three have the strength to pull a trigger. A gun owner must take responsibility of their weapons. Children lack the maturity to properly deal with weapons.”
Here are tips to protect children:
- Keep guns locked and out of reach of children. Get locks for older guns or those that didn’t come with locks. Call your local law enforcement agency for guidance. Many agencies work with organizations like Project ChildSafe to provide cable-style gun locks to those who need them.
- Ammunition should be stored in a place different from the guns.
- Never leave a gun out and unattended.
- Teach children to never touch a gun or gun parts in your home or when in another home.
Gun safety should begin at an early age. Children should be taught from early on not to handle them or what to do in case they come in contact with a gun.
Also teach children that while guns and weapons are used in television shows and in video games, they are not OK in real life. “Real guns can do damage,” said Dr. Fetterolf.
Gun and weapon safety should also go beyond the home. At a play date, make sure any weapons in the house are also locked up. “Teach children that it is OK to leave a house immediately if another child brings out a weapon,” said Dr. Fetterolf.
Arrange to store weapons away from the home if a child shows signs of depression. Suicide is a leading cause of death among teens and more likely to happen if there are guns in the home.
Should children become interested in hunting, be sure they get the required training and guidance needed. Contact a local sportsman shop for information about classes, which teach gun safety as well as proper use, care and storage. “It is very important those lessons are followed at all times at home,” said Dr. Fetterolf.
For more than 100 years, ThedaCare™ has been committed to finding a better way to deliver serious and complex healthcare to patients throughout Northeast Wisconsin. The organization serves over 200,000 patients annually and employs more than 7,000 healthcare professionals throughout the region. ThedaCare has seven hospitals located in Appleton, Neenah, Berlin, Waupaca, Shawano, New London and Wild Rose as well as 34 clinics in nine counties. ThedaCare is the first in Wisconsin to be a Mayo Clinic Care Network Member, giving our specialists the ability to consult with Mayo Clinic experts on a patient’s care. ThedaCare is a non-profit healthcare organization with a level II trauma center, comprehensive cancer treatment, stroke and cardiac programs as well as a foundation dedicated to community service. ThedaCare Regional Cancer Center in Appleton opened in February. For more information, visit www.thedacare.org or follow ThedaCare on Facebook and Twitter.