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Injury Prevention

Smart risk approach

​​​​​Taking smart risks

​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​Taking smart risks means knowing the risks of an activity and managing that risk to prevent injuries. You learn how to spot a risk and make safe decisions as you get older and have more life experience.


Children learn through their surroundings. But they haven’t developed all the skills they need to sense danger or to know and avoid risks. This is what makes them more likely to get injured.

Most of our surroundings are designed for adults. So these surroundings, like our homes and our communities, carry risks for children.

This is why it’s important that parents and other adults know the risks and manage them for children. It’s up to adults to:

  • make sure children’s surroundings are safe
  • pay attention to children and always be close by
  • teach children how to be safe
  • show children what safe behaviours look like

When children reach their teens, they’re better at spotting a risk and knowing what could happen if they’re not careful.

Teens make decisions that involve risks. So to prevent dangerous risk-taking and injuries, teens must learn how to spot a risk, manage the risk, and make safe and healthy choices.

If you’re a parent, you have more influence over your teen than you think. This is why it’s important to help your teen learn to spot risks and manage risks. ​But it’s also important to let them practice. Show your teen what smart risk-taking looks like.

​The smart risk approach

The smart risk approach is about knowing that risk is a part of life, and that taking risks is part of growing up. But the smart risk approach is also about knowing that you can do things to lower the risk of injury.

Look first

Think ahead and know the risks. You can only choose to take a smart risk if you know what the risks are. Prepare and plan before the activity so you can make smart choices.

Before you do an activity like cross the street, ski down a hill, or climb a ladder, understand the risks and know how to manage them.

Wear the gear

Use protective equipment, like helmets and elbow and knee pads. Wear the right clothing and gear such as safety glasses. Wearing the right gear lowers the risk of an injury at home, work, or play.

It’s also important that you wear or use the right size of gear for your body. No matter what you’re doing—riding a bike, using tools, or going for a walk—wear the right gear.

Get trained

Training and practice help you learn how to do an activity and get better at it. This helps to lower your risk of an injury.

Training includes job safety training, ski lessons, and driver education.

Buckle up

Wear a seat belt (a type of safety buckle) when you‘re in a vehicle, no matter how short the trip is. Seat belts and child safety seats save lives and stop injuries from happening.

Safety buckles aren’t just to use in cars. Make sure to use the safety buckle on your helmet and life jacket too. Buckle up every time.

Stay sober and avoid distractions

Staying sober means no alcohol or drugs in your body. Staying sober allows you to be in full control of your mind and body while doing an activity or driving any type of vehicle, such as a car, truck, boat, all-terrain vehicle (ATV), or snowmobile.

To lower the risk of an injury or accident when you drive, it’s also important that you’re not tired or distracted, for example, by your cell phone or other people in your vehicle).

Remember that children under 16 should not drive a snowmobile or any size of ATV.

Get help

Find support when you or someone you know needs help or support. It can be hard to deal with issues and challenges in your life when you face them alone. It’s OK to ask for help.

Current as of: March 17, 2021

Author: Provincial Injury Prevention Program, Alberta Health Services