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Public Health Essentials

A place to highlight the work of the Snohomish Health District as well as share health-related information and tips. Have an idea or question? Drop us a line at SHDInfo@snohd.org.

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May 31

K is for Keep It Locked Up

Posted on May 31, 2022 at 2:26 PM by Kari Bray

This is Part 11 in a multi-week series of blogs focused on the ABC’s of Healthy Kids. Learn more at www.snohd.org/healthykids.  

Top Three Take-Aways:  

  1. Medications, alcohol or marijuana products should always be securely stored, and it’s important to be aware of which products and how much of them you have in your home.  
  2. A core part of gun safety is safe storage – make sure any firearms in your home are not accessible to anyone without your permission and supervision.  
  3. Locking doors at home, locking cars when not in use, and safely storing cleaning or yard products are other considerations when making sure your home is a safe space for children. 

What do you have in your home that you wouldn’t want your child to get into? And are you sure they can’t get into it?  

Even very young children can surprise you with their ingenuity in accessing items you thought were out of reach. As children get older, you may find you have tweens or teens who are interested in something that should stay out of their hands, such as alcohol or marijuana products, guns, or prescription medication that isn’t theirs.  

Keep your household safe for children of all ages by locking up items that may be dangerous. Different items require different plans for storage. A child-proofed pantry or cupboard may work well for cleaning supplies or sharp kitchen utensils. For medications or firearms, consider more secure storage. 

Here are some tips for keeping things locked up at home. 

Medications, alcohol and marijuana products 

Keep prescription medications, alcohol and marijuana products out of the reach of children and securely stored so teenagers cannot access them, either. Remember that products or amounts that may not cause major harm to an adult can be dangerous for young children and pets, as well as for older children and teens who may get into them with the intention of misusing. 

A locking cabinet, drawer or box is a good way to make sure these items are secured at home. There are a number of options available. Don't rely on basic childproofing methods like drawer or cabinet latches, particularly if you have older children at home. Only you and/or another adult in the home should be able to access what’s inside of the secure box or cabinet. 

medicine lockbox and locking pill bottleMedication lockboxes or portable locking bags are available in a variety of sizes and designs. You may just need locking pill bottles for a couple of medications, or you might want a larger locking product to store medicine, marijuana products such as edibles, and other substances that would be dangerous for children to consume.  

Medication lockboxes can be purchased at some local pharmacies, large retailers including Amazon and Walmart, as well as independent online businesses such as Safer Lock Rx, LockMed and Cardinal Bag Supplies

For alcohol that may be stored in a refrigerator or cabinet that does not have a lock, be sure to keep it out of the reach of young children and talk to older children or teens so they understand that it is off-limits. Be aware of how much you have so you will notice if any goes missing. 

It’s also important to be aware of other products and quantities. Don't lose track of old medications. Safely dispose of medicine or other potentially hazardous household products that you don’t need anymore.  

Safe gun storage 

If you have any firearms at home, make sure they are stored safely whenever they are not in use. This means: 

  • Guns are stored in a locked cabinet, safe, gun vault or storage case whenever you are not using them. This storage device is inaccessible for children, or for anyone without your permission. 
  • Guns are unloaded when not in use. Before storing a gun, as well as when you first take it out, be sure to point it in a direction where even an accidental shot could not injure anyone. Check that it is unloaded before proceeding. 
  • Ammunition is locked up separately from firearms when not in use. 
  • Consider a gun locking device, like a trigger lock, that makes a gun unusable while it is stored. This should be in addition to having a secure storage space at home such as a locking safe or case. 
  • You know how your firearm operates, including how to safely open and close the action of the firearm and how to safely remove any ammunition. 
  • You always unload, clean and store guns immediately after you are done using them. For example, if you have just returned from a hunting trip, you take care of safely storing your firearms right away, then unpack your other supplies. 
  • More tips and resources for gun safety: https://projectchildsafe.org/  

It also is important to talk with children and teens about gun safety. Make sure they know that if they find an unattended firearm in your home or anywhere else, they should never touch it. Instead, they should leave and tell an adult.  

Securely storing guns can make the difference in saving a life. This is true for reducing intentional or accidental shootings as well as for preventing suicide. More than half of suicides involve firearms. Research has shown that thoughts about suicide do pass, which means that if someone cannot access a gun while in crisis, that barrier between them and the firearm could save their life.  

Other key things to keep locked 

While we’ve covered some of the big ones for safe storage and locking, there are a few other things to keep in mind. 

  • Doors. Do you remember to lock your doors at night or when you go out? Also, consider top locks or latches for doors that lead outside so young children can’t get out without adult supervision – they are likely to figure out the door handle or deadbolt quicker than you might imagine. Latches that are higher up or require some specific technique or trick to open can add security. 
  • car keys locking carCleaning products and other chemicals. Be sure to store household cleaning products, yard products, or similar potentially hazardous items where children cannot access them. This includes all-purpose cleaners, bathroom cleaners, fertilizer, pesticides and more. Even cleaning and yard products that are marketed as natural, organic or non-toxic should be kept out of the reach of children. A locked cabinet or a high shelf in a locked room or shed are some possible options for storage. 
  • Cars when not in use. Children may think cars are a fun place to play, and they can get trapped inside. We often talk about car safety, especially during the summer months when it is extremely important not to leave children or pets alone in vehicles where temperatures can rise quickly to dangerous levels. It’s also important to make sure you lock your car even when it is parked at home so that a child cannot climb in and become trapped in dangerous temperatures, as well.  

Take some time now to check off the “K” in the ABC’s for healthy kids. Have you secured any potentially dangerous items in your home so children and teens can’t access them? 

Keeping things like medications, drugs, weapons and more locked up can prevent poisoning, injury or death. 

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