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In 2015, nearly 500 people were killed in firearm accidents across the U.S. While the number represents a significant drop from previous years, responsible gun owners can help lower it even more. A combination of gun safety habits and appropriate storage measures can prevent tragic incidents around the home and in the woods. Here are a few ways to ensure you and your loved ones stay safe.

Get to Know Your Firearm

Whether you’ve purchased a new car or a new laptop, one of the first things you do is get acquainted with the product. How does it work? How can you perform maintenance? Will you need to take it anywhere in particular when it needs repairs? These are the same questions you should ask when you take ownership of a firearm.

Keep your gun free from rust, and only allow an expert to disassemble and service it. Taking it apart and putting it back together without the right knowledge or skills can lead to dangerous situations. Of course, you should also learn how to use it properly. Gun training courses are available from places like Pew Pew Guru and other facilities that offer lessons from NRA-certified instructors.

Consider the Direction of the Gun

Anyone with experience handling firearms will tell you this is one of the most important tips to avoid unintended injuries. You need to be aware of the direction of the gun’s muzzle at all times. Make sure the gun isn’t aimed at anything aside from your target.

You’ll also want to consider the possibility of ricochets or hitting something that’s beyond your target. Even when the gun is unloaded or the safety is on, get into the habit of keeping the muzzle clear of other people. If it turns out the gun is still loaded or that the safety was off the entire time, you’re one step closer to a sudden accident.

Safely Store Your Firearm

While it might be tempting to settle for placing your gun in a spot that’s convenient for you – such as under the bed or in your dresser drawer – the most secure place to put it is in a safe.  Services like American Security Locksmith offer a variety of safes and vaults that’ll keep your firearms safe, no matter how many you own.

Unload your ammunition and consider keeping it in a different location than your firearms. This is especially important if you have curious children in your house. It’s important to strike a balance though. The firearm and ammo should be easily accessible to you in the event of an emergency, but it should be difficult for unauthorized individuals to equip themselves with the gun and the bullets.

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