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Injury Prevention

Smart Risk Approach

The Alberta Health Services Provincial Injury Prevention Program (PIPP) supports a smart risk approach to injury prevention. Risk is a part of life. While you can’t make all risks go away, you can manage most of them. Taking smart risks means recognizing the risks of an activity and choosing to manage that risk to prevent injuries. You are not born knowing how to recognize risk and make safe decisions—you develop this as you get older and have more life experience.

Children learn through their environment but at the same time they don’t have the physical and thinking skills they need to sense danger or to recognize and avoid hazards. This is what makes them more likely to be injured.

Many environments are designed for adults, which is why they present hazards to children. It is important that parents and other adults know the risks and manage them for children. It is up to adults to make sure the environment is safe, make sure children are supervised, teach and enforce safety rules, and model safe behaviours.

Teens make decisions involving risk-taking, however, being able to assess the risks and their consequences develops as they get older. To prevent dangerous risk-taking and injuries, teens must learn how to recognize risk, manage risk, and make safe and healthy choices. Research shows parents have more effect on their teens’ risk-taking behaviour than anyone else, including their friends. An important part of parenting teens is helping them learn to recognize and manage risks and letting them practice this. Adults should also model smart risk-taking for teens.

The Smart Risk Approach

The smart risk idea was developed by SMARTRISK, a former national injury prevention organization and is now a part of Parachute, a national organization to prevent injuries. SMARTRISK recognizes that risk is a part of life, and that taking risks is part of growing up. But it also recognizes two facts:

  1. Most injuries can be predicted ahead of time, which means they can be prevented.
  2. People can choose behaviours to reduce the likelihood of injury.

Taking smart risk means recognizing the risks of an activity and choosing to manage them to prevent an injury.

Smart risk is about “can do” rather than "don’t do". There are six smart risk choices or strategies Albertans can use to reduce their risk of injury while continuing to enjoy life:

Look First

Look first means think ahead. Understand the risks of an activity and make a plan to manage them: before you cross the street, before you ski down a hill, before you climb a ladder.

Wear the Gear

Wear the gear means using protective equipment or assistive devices to reduce the risk of an injury at home, work, or play. No matter what the activity - riding a bike, using tools, or going for a walk - wear the gear.

Get Trained

Get trained means learn how. When you are doing something that has some risk for yourself or others, become more skilled by training and practicing to reduce the risk of injury. Job safety training, ski lessons, and driver education are all examples of getting trained.

Buckle Up

Buckle up means wearing a seat belt whenever you are in a vehicle, no matter how short the trip. Seat belts and child safety seats save lives and prevent injuries; they are two of the best safety devices ever invented. Buckles for protection are not just in cars: your seat belt, your helmet, your life jacket – buckle up every time.

Drive Sober

Driving sober means being fully in control of your mind and body when behind the wheel of any vehicle: car, truck, all terrain vehicle (ATV), boat, or snowmobile. It means driving without alcohol or drugs in your system, not being tired, or not being distracted (by friends or by using your cell phone).

Seek Help

Seek help means looking for support when you or someone you know needs it. Life’s issues and challenges can seem too heavy when you face them alone. It’s okay to ask for help.

Take Smart Risk!

For more information, see:
Parachute (Preventing Injuries. Saving Lives.)​

Current as of: October 6, 2015

Author: Provincial Injury Prevention Program, Alberta Health Services