As the start of the new school year approaches us, we are heading out to purchase our kids their new school gear. When purchasing a new backpack for your child, safety and comfort is an important factor because it can be extremely dangerous if they are too small or too heavy for the child. More than 24,000 people were treated for backpack-related injuries in 2012, and more than 9,500 of those patients were between the ages of 5 and 18, according to the Consumer Product Safety Commission. Here are some safety tips all kids and parents should follow:
- Children should not carry more than 15-20% of their body weight in their backpacks. Both shoulder straps should be used at all times and the straps should be adjusted as needed to keep the weight evenly distributed.
- When lifting backpacks, children should bend their knees and lift from their legs as to not strain their backs.
- Reorganize items in the backpack so that the weight is evenly distributed. Heavier items should be at the lower part of the backpack and toward the center.
- Carry only the items that are required for that school day or for homework. Leave the rest at home or in a locker.
- Parents should buy backpacks that are the appropriate size for the child.
- Encourage your child to let you know if they are experiencing pain or numbness in their arms or legs. This may indicate that the backpack does not fit right or the child is carrying too much weight.
- Watch while your child puts on and takes off their backpack. If it looks like they are struggling, have them remove some of the weight inside and carry the backpack in their arms instead.
- Encourage your child to stop at their locker several times a day to remove heavier books that they do not need.