Staying active helps children and teens stay healthy, live longer, and build strong bones and muscles. While being active is good for children and teens, taking part in sports and recreation activities also has a risk of injury. In Alberta, getting hurt while playing a sport is the top cause of emergency department visits related to injuries for youth ages 10 to 19. It’s important to stay safe when taking part in sports and recreation activities.
Follow these tips to lower your risk or your child’s risk of getting hurt while playing sports and enjoying recreation activities:
- Check the environment to reduce or remove hazards.
- Wear protective gear.
- Develop skills.
Check the environment to reduce or remove hazards
To improve safety, check the places you or your child play sports and do other activities. Look for hazards. A
hazard is something dangerous that may not be obvious but that can cause serious injury. Examples of hazards include thin ice on a frozen lake, hard surfaces under play equipment, broken railings, or an uneven surface with holes on a soccer field.
risk is different. A risk is a situation where you or your child can see the chance of an injury happening, think about the challenge, and decide what to do. An example of thinking about risk is the ratings for ski and snowboard runs: green circle, blue square, and black diamond.
- Green circle runs are easier. They are groomed (machines spread out the snow and make the surface more even). They have gentle, flatter slopes.
- Blue square runs are more difficult. They are groomed slopes that are steeper and narrower than green runs.
- Black diamond runs are the most difficult. They are usually not groomed and are the steepest runs.
Skiers and snowboarders can use the ratings to think about the challenge and then choose which type of run to take.
As a young person or parent, your challenge is to learn to notice, reduce, and avoid hazards, while having the chance to explore and accept the level of risk you or your child are comfortable with.
Wear protective gear
Wearing protective gear like a helmet, mouth guard, elbow pads, and knee pads can lower the risk of an injury. No matter what the activity, make sure you or your child use the right gear and equipment. The gear should fit well. Make sure you or your child wear it properly every time. Learn about
fitting helmets for different activities.
Prepare and plan before starting a sport or activity. This includes getting your gear or your child’s gear together and warming up. Warm-up programs that include aerobic (activities that bring up your heart rate), balance, strength, and agility (being able to move quickly and easily) exercises help reduce the risk of injury in youth sports.
Training and practice help you or your child learn how to do an activity and get better at it. It also helps lower the chance that you or your child will get hurt. If you or your child don’t know how to do an activity, start slowly to develop skills. Think about taking lessons to learn or improve how you ski, snowboard, skate, bike, or play a sport. Take lessons from someone who knows how to teach the skills, like a trained coach or professional. This will help with skill development and safety.
When you or your child play an organized sport, the coaches should have training in how to prevent, see, and respond to injuries, including
concussions. Coaches should also be supportive, caring, and positive role models. Find out about your coach’s background before you or your child join an organized sports team.
Jumping on a trampoline can lead to serious injuries including broken bones, dislocations (when a bone moves out of its normal position), and injuries to the spine. Safety nets on trampolines can prevent falls but they do not prevent injuries related to jumping.
Alberta Health Services and the Canadian Paediatric Society recommend that children and youth not use trampolines at home, including cottages and summer homes.