All parents know that with all the books, school supplies and personal items students carry in their backpack, they can become extremely heavy. This is even a problem for my elementary age daughters, and it only gets worse once they head off to middle school and high school. Not only is it a nuisance for them to try to fit so many things into their backpack it can be a health problem. Heavy, overloaded backpacks can cause children back pain and other issues. There are some things as a parent we can do to help lighten their load, literally. Here are some backpack safety tips on how your child should wear their backpack.
Backpack Safety Tips Do’s:
1) Choose Quality Backpack – Be sure you pick a backpack that is made quality made. You want to pick one that your child likes, but also is capable of safely holding all their school supplies. A good backpack will better distribute the weight, and not tear. Be sure the backpack they choose has two, padded adjustable shoulder straps.
2) Show Them How To Wear It Properly – Many children are not aware of safety tips or how they should be carrying their backpack. Take some time before they go back to school to first be sure the back pack is fitting properly. You want to adjust the straps so they can still comfortably get it off and on but where it fits close to their body. Be sure to remind them to always wear it using both shoulder straps to evenly distribute the weight.
3) Lighten Up – This backpack safety tip is sometimes hard to do since many schools do not even allow children to use lockers anymore so they have to carry everything in their backpack. Try to encourage them to always clean their backpack so they are not carrying around trash and unnecessary items. Be sure to keep plenty of school supplies at home this will keep your child from having to carry home too many items. You may even be able to keep a second set of their school books at home to even further lighten their load.
4) Communicate –One of the most important of the backpack safety tips is to encourage your child to tell you if they are having back pain or any other problems due to the weight of their back pack. If they are following all the other do’s and they know how to wear their backpack you might need to speak to the school. Backpack injury’s are a growing problem and in many cases parents need to band together and take up this problem with their child’s school and school district.
Backpack Safety Tips Don’ts:
1) Using Only One Strap – Many children will ignore safety tips and try to use only one shoulder strap when they wear their backpack. Some children even try to just carry their backpack. Some are not aware of the medical problems this can cause, or they think they just look cool. Be sure you tell them they need to wear both straps, if they do not it can cause a shoulder injury if on the side that is carrying all that weight.
2) Don’t Overload – In the safety tips do’s listed above I stressed the importance to lighten up their backpacks. If you can have your child only carry the books and school supplies necessary for that days classes. Many children attend core classes on alternating days, this could give them the opportunity to switch out the items they carry. You can check your child’s backpack by weighing it when it is loaded with their school supplies. A good rule of thumb is if possible try not allow their backpack to weigh more than 10% of your child’s bodyweight.
3) Listen To Your Child – This important of the backpack safety tips applies to parents. Be sure to listen to your child if they tell you they are experiencing shoulder or back pain. One of the most important of the don’ts, you want to take any complaint they have seriously. Sometimes we may write it off as to them just complaining in general, maybe because they are not excited about going back to school. It is always better to be safe than sorry and have their complaint checked by a doctor.
4) Incorrectly Packed Backpack – The last of my backpack safety tips is essential and does not take very long to teach to your children. A big of the backpack safety don’ts is just throwing everything in the backpack. You need to teach your child to take a extra moment even if they are in a hurry to put their books and school supplies in correctly. They need to put their heavy books in first and standing up neatly, then any smaller lighter items can sit on top of them if necessary. This will help keep the majority of the weight of the backpack at the bottom where it should be. This will help to keep it from putting extra strain on your child’s neck and shoulders.
American Academy Of Orthopedic Surgeons – orthoinfo.aaos.org/topic.cfm
John Muir Health – www.johnmuirhealth.com/index.php/rehabilitation_childrens_backpack.html