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Am J Prev Med. 2005 Jan;28(1):109-15.

Storage of poisonous substances and firearms in homes with young children visitors and older adults.

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  • 1Injury Prevention Research Center, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Chapel Hill, North Carolina, USA. tamera_coyne-beasley@med.unc.edu



Most unintentional childhood poisonings and firearm injuries occur in residential environments. Therefore, a preventive strategy includes limiting children's access to poisons and firearms through safe storage. This study examines storage of poisons and firearms among households with older adults, and households where young children reside compared to those where they visit only.


Sample is from a 2002 national random-digit-dial survey of 1003 households. Analyses were weighted to reflect the national population.


There were 637 households with children residents or visitors aged <6 years. Seventy-five percent of the households (n =480) had children aged <6 as visitors only, and 15% had older adult residents (aged >/=70 years). Poisons and firearms were stored less securely in homes with young children as visitors as compared to those homes with resident young children. In 55% of homes where young children lived, and 74% of homes where young children were only visitors, household chemicals were reportedly stored unlocked. Although firearm ownership was comparable between the two categories of households (33% vs 34%), homes in which children were only visitors were more likely to store firearms unlocked (56%), than homes in which children resided (33%). Homes with older adult residents had more firearms present.


Children are at risk from improperly stored poisonous substances and firearms in their own homes and homes they visit. Strategies are needed to improve the storage practices of both poisons and firearms to minimize in-home hazards to young children, particularly raising awareness of these hazards to young visitors.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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