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New NICE draft guidance will help prevent unintentional injuries to children during outdoor play and leisure

It is important that children and young people play and get exercise outdoors [1], but each year in the UK more than 450,000 children and young people visit emergency departments after injuring themselves while playing outside.[2]

These unintentional injuries to children and young people in outdoor settings can be prevented with better safety information, advice and education, according to new draft guidance. This draft guidance has today (17 May) been issued for public consultation by the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE).

Although serious injury and deaths outdoors are rare, unintentional injuries do still happen and for this reason, NICE is developing public health guidance to prevent unintentional injuries for children under 15 years old in outdoor environments such as playgrounds, skate parks, canals, fields and farmyards.

Mike Kelly, Public Health Excellence Centre Director, NICE said: “Outdoor play is important because it introduces children to some degree of risk which helps build their confidence, resilience and self-esteem. Nobody wants to wrap children in cotton wool and prevent them from leaving the house, but equally, no-one wants to see children killed and injured when they are playing outdoors. So it's vital children and young people, parents and carers are given the right safety information so they can avoid preventable injuries.

“The draft guidance includes a number of recommendations, such as ensuring safety information, advice and education is provided for children, young people, their parents and carers when using play and leisure facilities and identifying high-risk outdoor play areas.

“The draft recommendations also focus on balancing risk with the benefits of play. The draft guidance recommends play and leisure activities should maintain a balance between providing exciting, stimulating challenges - which can help children and young people develop skills for managing risk - and minimising the risk of injury.

“It also recommends educating children and young people about outside influences like media images and fashion, to help them resist peer pressure and avoid harm.”

“The aim of developing this new guidance is to make sure children and young people, their parents and carers have a good understanding about the risks associated with outdoor play and how to stay safe.”

This draft guidance is mainly aimed at organisations that provide information, advice and education to children, young people, their parents and carers including leisure organisations, local education authorities, schools and youth services. The draft guidance is available on the website via http://www.nice.org.uk/guidance/index.jsp?action=folder&o=48484. Anyone wishing to submit comments on this draft guidance is invited to do so via the NICE website, www.nice.org.uk, until 13 July. Final guidance is expected in November 2010.

This is one of five pieces of NICE guidance currently in development on how to prevent unintentional injuries among children and young people aged under 15. The others will address: road design and modification; education and protective equipment to prevent road injuries; risk assessments to prevent home injuries and providing safety equipment; and strategies, legislation, regulation, enforcement, surveillance and workforce development.

Together this suite of guidance will make a significant contribution to preventing unintentional injuries in children and young people under 15. It will add to the framework of policy advice and guidance for anyone who has a direct or indirect role in, and responsibility for, preventing unintentional injuries among under 15s.

[1] NICE has produced guidance on the promotion and creation of physical environments that support increased levels of physical activity and promoting physical activity for children and young people.

[2] Department of Trade and Industry 2002

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This page was last updated: 21 May 2010

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Accessibility | Cymraeg | Freedom of information | Vision Impaired | Contact Us | Glossary | Data protection | Copyright | Disclaimer | Terms and conditions

Copyright 2014 National Institute for Health and Care Excellence. All rights reserved.