With a firearm in one-third of American homes with children, it’s very likely that, as a parent, you’ve thought about gun safety for your child. This statistic comes from Asking Saves Kids (ASK), a national campaign that encourages gun safety – something that may seem intense for a child, but is absolutely necessary.

Children are naturally curious. To learn about the world, they gravitate toward the new and interesting, especially things that often get portrayed as “taboo” like drugs, alcohol – and guns. Though it can be a nerve-racking discussion, an important part of preparing your child to be an adult is teaching them how to think about guns when they do encounter one, whether it’s in your home or someone else’s. The ASK campaign promotes one simple idea to help with this conversation, which is to ask one very critical question: “Is there an unlocked gun in your house?

Parents and caregivers need to ask this important question before deciding whether to send a child to someone’s house to play. Conversely, if children are coming over to your house, it’s also important to tell the child’s parents that you keep a gun in the home. Keeping kids safe takes communication by everyone involved.

But what if you want a gun-free household? Your child will see guns in the movies and on TV, and they’ll likely come into contact with one at a friend or relative’s house, given the statistics. That’s why properly educating your child on gun safety is a lifesaving skill for all children. This guide shares the best ways to ensure your family knows how to properly handle guns, whether you keep them in your house or not.

Safety Starts at Home

If you choose to keep a firearm in your home, you need to keep it in a securely locked location only you can access. Here are three tips on how to do this:

  • Use a safe. While gun safety education benefits children, the best way for you to ensure children don’t handle your guns unattended is to store all firearms and ammunition in a safe. You can find gun safes of all sizes, including small and affordable options that fit into a nightstand. Digital keypads or biometric touchscreens allow you to get your firearm quickly.
  • Know where and how to secure firearms. Only adults who use the guns and ammo should know where and how to access them. Any gun, even stored in a safe, should be unloaded when you’re not using it.
  • Do it now, not later. If you carry a handgun outside the home, make it a habit to immediately put your gun in a safe as soon as you return. Don’t put it down on a table with the intention of storing it later. You may forget.

If you choose not to have firearms in the house, your child will likely come into contact with a gun at someone else’s house – which is why you still need to educate them on proper gun safety. Guns are like alcohol or drugs. As a responsible parent, you need to educate your child before they come into contact with a firearm when you’re not around. If they know exactly what to do, their chances of acting safe and responsible go up considerably.

Continue reading Youth Gun Safety: A Smart Parent’s Guide to Keeping Kids Safe at Ammo.com.