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“It Doesn’t Kill to Ask”

Tower Health encourages families to ask about gun access and safety measures.

Mar 18, 2024

by Reading Hospital – Tower Health

Firearms remain the leading cause of injury and death in children, and research shows that asking about unlocked guns where children may be present can save lives.

Recognizing that gun safety requires a comprehensive approach to prevention, including education, outreach, and advocacy, Tower Health and Reading Hospital are encouraging a community approach to protecting children from unlocked guns. Tower Health has joined the nation’s largest regional collaboration of health systems, representing 59 hospitals in Philadelphia, Southeastern Pennsylvania, Delaware, and Southern New Jersey, for “It Doesn’t Kill to Ask,” an ongoing, multi-media campaign that empowers caregivers, parents, and community members to speak up about safe gun storage in homes a child might visit.

“Across the health system, our teams provide life-saving care for children with gun-related injuries,” said Christopher Valente, MD, Chief, Division of Pediatric Emergency Medicine at Reading Hospital – Tower Health. “Unfortunately, the instances of gun-related injuries that impact children are more common than one would think. Prevention, awareness, and education are crucial to decreasing these cases.”

The campaign comes at a time when an average of 13 children die from guns every day, making guns the leading cause of death in children in the country. Access to unlocked guns may lead to death, suicide, and violence, making it more likely children will die from guns than cancer or automobile accidents. According to Brady United Against Gun Violence, nearly 5 million children live in homes with unlocked or unsupervised guns, and last year, there were at least 377 unintentional shootings by children, resulting in 145 deaths.

Through a comprehensive website, HospitalsTogether.com, community members can access actionable tools and new resources to aid in normalizing important conversations about gun storage. It can be a difficult conversation. However, it is vital to speak up. Here are five ways to help you ask about gun safety:

  • Say my doctor asked me to – “Our pediatrician mentioned guns are the leading cause of death for kids now and urged us to ask friends if there are any unlocked guns in the house.”
  • Say a friend asked me – “The other Jenny’s friend asked if we had any unlocked guns in the house. We don’t, but it’s pretty smart to ask. What about you – are there unlocked guns here?”
  • Say it’s on my list – When dropping off your kids, have a list of safety questions. “I just wanted to ask a few safety questions. Any pets? Have a pool? What are your screen-time rules? Are there any unlocked guns in the house?”
  • Ask on social – “Has anyone been asked about unlocked guns lately? I was wondering because we were just asked, and it’s a pretty smart question.”
  • Say you saw it on TV – “I just saw them talking about unlocked guns on one of the morning shows on a parenting segment. Apparently, it is the new “safety” question.”

Together with the coalition, Tower Health is committed to tackling the most difficult public health issues that often result in serious and avoidable health consequences and offering messages of prevention and safety, hope, and healing.

Tower Health is a regional integrated healthcare system that offers compassionate, high-quality, leading-edge healthcare and wellness services to communities in Berks, Chester, Montgomery, and Philadelphia Counties. With approximately 11,500 employees, Tower Health consists of Reading Hospital in West Reading; Phoenixville Hospital in Phoenixville; Pottstown Hospital in Pottstown; and St. Christopher’s Hospital for Children in Philadelphia, in partnership with Drexel University. Tower Health is strongly committed to academic medicine and training, including multiple residency and fellowship programs, the Drexel University College of Medicine at Tower Health, and the Reading Hospital School of Health Sciences in West Reading. The system also includes Reading Hospital Rehabilitation at Wyomissing; home healthcare provided by Tower Health at Home; TowerDirect ambulance and emergency response; Tower Health Medical Group; Tower Health Providers, our clinically integrated network; and Tower Health Urgent Care facilities across our service area. For more information, visit towerhealth.org.

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