Written by Fay Abrahamsson
As the summer draws to a close and school days are looming (if not already here for some), it is important to look at backpack safety.
Backpacks have long been a convenient way to carry books to school.
But if they are overloaded or worn improperly, backpacks can cause pain, discomfort and damage.
According to safety guidelines reported by the American Academy of Pediatrics, the maximum that a child should carry in their backpack should not exceed 10 to 20% of their body weight. Several other organizations limit the weight to no more than 10-15% of their body weight — but less is always better.
That means that if your child weighs 65 pounds, their total backpack weight should be between 6 1/2 lbs. to 13 lbs.
When choosing a backpack make sure that:
- It is made of light-weight material
- It has wide, padded shoulders straps
- It has multiple compartments that will distribute the weight of the little items
- It has a hip or waist belt, which is a plus
Tips on how to properly wear a backpack:
- Straps that are too narrow can cause them to dig into the shoulders causing tingling, numbness and weakness in the arms and hands.
- The best backpack with the right amount of weight worn improperly can also add to the risk of injury. Both shoulder straps should be worn.
- Slinging a backpack over one shoulder can strain muscles. It may increase curvature of the spine.
- No low riding backpacks -- the straps should be tight enough hold it 2 inches above the waist. Heavier books get packed to the rear to evenly distribute loads.
Backpacks that are too heavy or incorrectly worn can pull a child backward. To compensate, a child may bend forward at the hips or arch the back, which can cause the spine to compress unnaturally.
The heavy weight might cause some kids to develop shoulder, neck, and back pain. It can also lead to poor posture. Carrying a heavy pack changes the way a person walks and increases the risk of falling, particularly on stairs or other places where the backpack puts the student off balance.
So as we prepare for the early morning rush, helping with homework, PTA meetings and field trips, please ensure your child's safety by checking his or her backpack so they are not over weighted and at risk of injuries to their back and neck.
Have a wonderful school year!!