JOHN DAY - It's never too early to start teaching children about gun safety, which is this month's theme for the John Day American Legion Auxiliary Children and Youth Program.

On May 12, Jessie Lewis, chairwoman of the program, and John Day Police Chief Richard Tirico will be at the Health and Safety Fair at Humbolt Elementary School to present the Eddie Eagle GunSafe Program.

The schedule of discussions also includes Head Start in John Day, and at Seneca and Sonshine School.

Endorsed by the National Rifle Association, the Eddie Eagle Program is a gun accident prevention program for children preschool through third grade. The program teaches children that if they find a gun in an unsupervised situation, they should: "STOP! Don't Touch. Leave the Area. Tell an Adult."

One study published in the Journal of Emergency Nursing Online (October 2001) named The Eddie Eagle GunSafe Program the best of 80 gun accident prevention programs evaluated, according to the NRA Web site (www.nrahq.org/safety/eddie/).

Eddie Eagle advises:

• There is no particular age to talk to your child about gun safety. A good time to introduce the subject is the first time they show an interest in firearms, even toy pistols or rifles..

• It is important to discuss gun use on television as opposed to use in real life.

• If your child has toy guns, you may want to use them to demonstrate safe gun handling and to explain how they differ from genuine firearms.

The NRA's three basic rules for gun safety are: Always keep the gun pointed in a safe direction, always keep your finger off the trigger until ready to shoot and always keep the gun unloaded until ready to use.

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