LOUISVILLE, Ky. — At Norton Children’s Hospital, doctors traded in their normal scrubs for orange t-shirts for National ASK Day on Monday. ASK stands for “Asking Saves Kids,” and the encourages parents to ask friends and family if they have firearms in their homes and if they’re secured.
Norton pediatric ER physician Dr. Brit Anderson says few cases are harder on the heart than shootings. She says far too often, children come into her ER after accidentally shooting themselves with a gun that was unlocked or unsecured.
"Can you imagine that? You just are running a routine errand, and this happens, and your life is changed forever?" she said.
For National ASK Day, Norton physicians are trying to increase awareness about gun safety and encourage parents to ask the sometimes-awkward question about whether someone has a gun in the home.
"I would say that one gunshot wound in a child is always too many. We are seeing more than we have ever seen,” Anderson said.
In 2019, Norton Healthcare treated 26 children for accidental gunshot wounds. In 2020, that number went up to 60 and already in 2021, Norton has seen 32 accidental pediatric gunshot cases.
"Bottom line is it can, and it does happen. It happens here, it happens in our community and it is happening all the time,” Anderson said.
Anderson said doctors don’t know what is causing the increase in accidental shootings, but they want to prevent the numbers from rising even more.
For gun owners, Anderson recommends gun safes or locks, putting as many barriers as possible between a curious kid and a firearm.
"Storing them unloaded locked with the ammunition stored in a separate place, that's the ideal way,” she said.
For parents, she says even if it may be uncomfortable, you should always ask.
If you do have a firearm in the home, Anderson says there are a wide variety of gun locks and gun safes you can purchase at a range of prices.