According to the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), 44 million homes in the U.S. have at least one gun. In this season when your youngster may be visiting in homes of friends and relatives, or even spying for hidden stashes of gifts, it’s a good time to review gun safety.
If you own a gun, it needs to be unobtainable for a young person, not just out of sight. Children, even the very young, have an incredible knack for finding hidden things. A three-year-old, for example, found a gun hidden between his parents’ mattress and box springs. Guns should be unloaded and locked away in a cabinet for that purpose (preferably one that doesn’t have a glass or other see-through door). Ammunition should be kept in a separate, also locked, location.
Talk. Tell your children about the dangers of guns. Be clear about rules and firm about what privileges will be taken away if they break those rules.
Ask. If your child or teen is going to someone else’s home, ask whether or not that home has guns and, if so, how they are stored.
Don’t assume. Children are inquisitive; teens want to fit in. If they see a gun, no matter how well they know your rules, they are likely to want to touch it and play with it.
Also, don’t assume that your child would never choose to be violent toward herself or that he would never choose to harm others. Young people, no matter how good the parenting and how delightful the child, often make bad judgments, especially in the heat of a moment. In addition, mental illnesses such as depression can surface at nearly any age.
Some more statistics from the AAP: A gun kept in the home triples the risk of homicide. The risk of suicide is 5 times more likely if a gun is kept in the home.
Did you know that Georgetown Pediatrics has our very own dietician? Amy Crist has been with us for about 9 months and is available by appointment through our office.
Working part-time for us, Amy is a registered dietician (RD) with a master’s degree, has also worked at Georgetown Community hospital, and makes her home right here in Georgetown.
Amy loves working with infants, children, adolescents and their parents in developing healthy eating habits, including those who have dietary restrictions. She is a frequent speaker at local elementary schools to teach children about healthy eating and nutrition. She’s even led a support group on breast feeding. She is happy to have an appointment with you and your child or teen to discuss:
dietary restrictions and planning as a result of disease or condition (diabetes, drug therapies, etc.),
concerns about weight or eating disorders,
helping the whole family develop healthy eating habits,
diet and sports,
and anything else you want to talk over with a dietician.
Do you remember all those things your grandmother taught you about staying healthy in the winter? Many of them hold true (chicken soup really is good for you!), but there are some commonly held beliefs about cold weather and health that just don’t hold up to scientific scrutiny. Here are three.
1. “Stay inside, because cold air will make you sick.” Viruses and bacteria cause illness, not air temperature. Chilly weather shouldn’t keep children from getting the exercise they need. Just be sure to dress them warmly and use common sense. Don’t forget that cold and wet together (think playing in the snow) can cause frostbite fairly quickly.
2. “Never go out without a hat—you’ll lose all your body heat through your head.” Well, not exactly. Yes, staying covered keeps you warm. And yes, staying covered includes wearing a hat. But if your child got on the bus without her hat, she’ll be okay unless it’s super cold. You lose heat through any exposed skin, but no more through the head than through any other part of the body. Just keep your children warmly dressed. A hat or hood is often a good way to feel (and be) warm.
3. “Allergies go away in the winter.” Maybe. If your child has pollen allergies, those will likely improve. But if he has allergies to dust mites or pet dander, those may worsen because of increased time spent indoors. Many people with allergies have a sensitivity to live Christmas trees, not only because of the greenery, but because of outdoor allergens that cling to the needles.