Background: As with other injury prevention practices, education about safe firearm storage is recommended to prevent injuries to children.
Objective: To assess whether parents who are safety conscious in other respects also practice firearm safety.
Methods: 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.
Results: 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 degrees F (49 degrees 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.
Conclusion: Compliance with safety practices may not be associated with safe firearm storage.