Picking and packing a safe backpack for your young student.
At the beginning of a new school year, does your child feel like she has the weight of the world on her shoulders? Well, sometimes she does. According to the US Consumer Product Safety Commission, more than 5,000 US children had to be treated for backpack-related injuries in 2014, the most recent year they studied.
Brian J. Blondin, Occupational Safety at White Plains Hospital, has collected a number of suggestions that may be helpful to parents.
Buy Smart. Start with a lightweight pack that is the right size for the child. If possible, have the child try it on before purchasing it. The straps should hold the pack two inches above the waist once adjusted.
- Look for wide, padded shoulder straps and a padded back to reduce stress on the shoulders and lower back.
For older kids and teens, a pack with a waist strap can help keep the load evenly distributed.
- Wear it Right. Always wear both straps.
Pack heavier items toward the back and center of the pack – this is where extra padding can be helpful.
Use the compartments wisely to distribute the weight.
A full pack should weigh no more than 10-20% of the child’s weight.
With 90% of school-aged children using backpacks, and with 20% of adolescents experiencing some form of back pain, this is timely advice from Brian.