Back-to-School Tips on Backpack Safety
Four factors keep students from shouldering a too-heavy load
SATURDAY, Aug. 7, 2010 (HealthDay News) -- As the new school year approaches, parents and children planning their "back-to-school" lists are urged to keep backpack safety in mind.
Each year, about 6,000 children in the United States experience backpack-related injuries, Linda Rhodes, an occupational therapist at MCGHealth Children's Medical Center in Augusta, Ga., explained in a news release from the medical center.
In an effort to cut down on the number of these injuries, Rhodes offers parents the following backpack safety advice:
- Choose a lightweight backpack that doesn't add too much to your child's load. The pack should have two wide, padded shoulder straps and a padded back that will improve comfort and protect your child from being poked by the sharp points and edges of pencils, pens, rulers and other objects they need to carry.
- Select the proper size backpack for your child. It should cover no more than three-quarters of the length of your child's back.
- Load backpacks carefully. The maximum weight of a loaded pack should not be more than 15 percent of a child's body weight. Place the heaviest books closest to the back as they require the most body support. If a child has to lean forward to carry a pack, it's too heavy.
- Have your child wear the pack correctly. He or she should use both shoulder straps. Carrying a backpack on one shoulder puts too much strain on one side of the upper body. The straps should be snug, but not too tight. If a backpack has a waist strap, use it to help better support the load.
The American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons has more about backpack safety.