Smog advice: should you keep your child indoors?

Latest thinking on what the high levels of air pollution in the UK mean for your family


You can’t turn on the news today without hearing about the smog panic that’s gripped the nation.


Yesterday, some schools even went as far to keep healthy children indoors so they wouldn’t breathe in high levels of pollution, the Telegraph is reporting. But others let children out to play as normal.

Conflicting messages from Government experts has even got headteachers confused. So we’ve rounded up the advice you need to keep your family safe.

Check the air pollution in your area

Some parts of the country are unaffected by the smog with only the south-east of the UK currently most affected.

Check the air pollution levels in your area on this handy air pollution forecast map.

Advice for children

DEFRA (Department for Environment Food & Rural Affairs) says healthy children should still go to school and take part in games. See below for advice if your child has asthma or a heart or lung condition.

If your area is experiencing very high levels of air pollution, some people may experience a sore or dry throat, sore eyes or, in some cases, a tickly cough.

Advice: If the air pollution levels are very high in your area and your children are experiencing symptoms then consider reducing their activity outside to relieve the symptoms. If they’re not showing symptoms then they’re free to play outside.

Children with asthma

Children with asthma may notice that they need to increase their use of reliever medication on days when levels of air pollution are higher than average.

Advice: If the air pollution levels are 7 and above then keep an asthma inhaler at hand and consider reducing activity outside.

Children with lung or heart conditions

If your area is affected by high levels of pollution then children with lung or heart conditions are at increased risk of becoming ill and needing treatment. However, only a minority of those who suffer from these conditions are likely to be affected and it is not possible to predict in advance who will be affected.

Advice: If air pollution levels are moderate then consider reducing their physical activity outdoors. If levels are high then children should reduce strenuous physical exertion outdoors and if they’re very high then avoid strenuous physical activity all together.

For more detailed information visit the DEFRA Daily Air Quality Index guide.

Have your children been affected?

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MadeForMums Writer – Jessica Gibb

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