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Backpack Safety Tips

“Back to school” means backpacks filled with books and school supplies. While backpacks are convenient and practical, they can also cause muscle strains, injuries, and poor posture if they’re too large, too heavy, not worn correctly, or not properly balanced. Follow these tips to choose the right backpack for your child:

 
  • Choose a lightweight material so the backpack itself is adding as little as possible to the weight of the load
  • The backpack shouldn’t be longer or narrower than your child’s torso, and hang no lower than four inches below the waistline
  • Multiple compartments help distribute weight more evenly and keep the load from shifting
  • Light padding keeps sharp objects like pencils, rulers and book corners from digging into the child’s back
  • Look for wide padded shoulder straps that won’t dig into the child’s shoulders
  • A waist belt helps keep the backpack secure
  • Choose a reflective color or add reflective tape to increase your child’s visibility

Backpacks should always be worn over both shoulders. Slinging it over one shoulder may be quick, but it puts the child’s body out of balance. Fastening the waist belt keeps the weight distributed evenly and prevents the backpack from swinging and swaying. Help your child practice putting the backpack on and taking it off to make sure it’s being worn properly.
 
The total weight of the backpack shouldn’t exceed 10 percent of the child’s body weight. Lighten the load as much as possible by packing only what’s needed for the school day, and center the heaviest items to balance the load.
 
Watch for signs that your child’s backpack may be too large or too heavy, such as struggling to put it on or take it off, leaning forward to carry the load, walking off balance, or experiencing numbness or pain in the neck, shoulders, arms or back. Choosing the right backpack, making sure it’s not too heavy, and ensuring that it’s being worn correctly will help keep your child organized in safety and comfort.