SAVANNAH, Ga. (WSAV) — The number of firearms-related injuries in children rose 50 percent statewide last year.
The state of Peach has the ninth-highest rate of gun violence in the United States, and firearms injuries cost more than $12 billion dollars each year, with taxpayers contributing nearly 600 million to that number.
According to the Georgia Stay Safe campaign, eight in 10 unintentional child deaths occur at home.
Health officials in Savannah are calling on community members to do their part to raise children’s safety and awareness.
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“The most important thing people want is safety, you want to know that you are safe at home, you want to know that you are safe where you go and especially for children because that is not in their control, and that is going to be a burden not just for them, but for the family as well,” explains Kelsey Palladino, program manager of the Pediatric Trauma Center at Memorial Health University.
One in three families with children has access to guns, which is why health officials say it’s critical to teach children both education and safety.
“Nationally, we’ve seen a massive increase in accidental injuries in pediatric firearms and disastrous as this is, we know it’s 100 percent preventable,” said Emily Burnside, injury prevention and disaster management coordinator at Memorial Health University.
Memorial Health and the Georgia Stay Safe campaign promote communication as an important part of trauma prevention.
“In Georgia, we have seen a 50 percent increase in accidental shootings since the start of the pandemic,” Burnside added.
Simple steps, such as securing where you keep a gun, keeping ammunition separate, and asking friends and family if they have a gun in the house before visiting with a young child can prevent tragedy.
“There are multiple ways we need to talk about how we’re dealing with this: there’s the emotional response that our team and the family members have, as well as the physical response that the child has,” Palladino said.
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“Our suicide rates have risen dramatically, so if you know if you have a child or teen who is at risk for suicide, it’s also important to make sure you take or move the guns out of your home, or put them in a safe. keeps. location,” Burnside described.
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In Savannah, community members continue to advocate for gun education and safety, with two children recently shot in a mass shooting. Memorial Health staff said now is the time to speak up and push for awareness and change.
“This isn’t just another time you know we have a kid that’s getting shot and we’re dealing with it in the trauma room, this is a lifelong struggle that we’re going through. It is our responsibility to make sure you are informed about safety precautions, I think it is the parents responsibility to make sure they stay safe and to educate their children and I think it is the child’s responsibility is to speak up when they don’t feel comfortable,” Palladino said.
Memorial Health’s Level One Trauma Center is one of only five in the state. They want the community to know they have access to 24/7 care. Click HERE to learn more about their resources.