As with other injury prevention practices, education about safe firearm storage is recommended to prevent injuries to children.
To assess whether parents who are safety conscious in other respects also practice firearm safety.
Data come from responses to a baseline survey administered as part of an intervention study. Participants were consenting adults who brought a child into an emergency department. These analyses were restricted to those parents who had young children (<7 years) and who kept a firearm in their house. A safety consciousness score was developed; participants earned a point for each of 7 home and car safety behaviors they reported practicing. The relationship between safety consciousness with handgun ownership and firearm storage practices was assessed with Wilcoxon-Mann-Whitney test.
Of the 221 participants, most reported that they keep poisonous substances out of children's reach (92%), always keep children restrained when in cars (90%), have the telephone number for a poison control center (82%), change smoke alarm batteries annually (73%), keep electrical outlets capped (72%), and keep their tap water temperature at 120°F (49°C) or less (65%). Only 22% reported checking smoke alarm batteries monthly. The median safety score was 4 (mean [SD], 3.99 [1.4]). Fifty-six percent said there was a handgun in their home, 27% reported an unlocked gun, 20% reported a loaded gun, and 7% reported a loaded and unlocked gun. Results were not consistent with safety consciousness being associated with safe firearm storage practices or the absence of a handgun.
Compliance with safety practices may not be associated with safe firearm storage.