Backpack Safety Tips
Despite parents' best efforts to protect their children from getting hurt, one of the greatest sources of potential injury often gets overlooked even when it's in plain sight: the backpack. Considered the most efficient way to carry books and other items that kids need for school, when it's overstuffed, it may actually be causing the pain and fatigue that as many as half of kids today are experiencing.To help your child wear backpacks safely, try the following tips:
- Carry no more than 15 percent of your body weight. Work with your child to determine how much weight should be carried in his or her backpack. Weigh each item separately, so that your child can determine which items should be carried versus what can be left at home.
- Keep backpack use limited to necessities only. See that your child cleans out his or her backpack daily by removing any items that can be left at home or in a locker.
- Use both straps. Make sure that the weight of your child's backpack is evenly distributed across the back to promote good posture and to avoid shoulder strain and/or a pinched nerve.
- Recognize signs that the backpack is too heavy. Pay attention to whether your child is slouched or leaning to one side when wearing a backpack or is experiencing any type of back pain, tingling or numbness in the shoulders or arms.
- Select the proper backpack. Enhance comfort and safety by purchasing a backpack with multiple compartments, so that weight is more evenly distributed. Padded straps can also help to prevent straps from cutting into shoulders. Newer backpacks with wheels are also an option, provided that the handle extends long enough to allow children to stand upright while pulling it. The backpack and wheels must also be sturdy enough so that it does not topple over.
- Pick up the backpack properly. Teach your child how to pick up his or her backpack by demonstrating how to bend at the knees and grasp the pack with both hands before putting it on.