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Tips for Backpack Safety

With another school year now underway, students are once again lugging their backpacks around, filled with heavy textbooks and a multitude of school supplies. Here are some safety tips to remember for this school year.

Is it Too Heavy?

A heavy backpack is a "typical" problem students can face on a daily basis. But if you, your child, or student has visible trouble while wearing a book bag, it's most likely too heavy or overloaded.

Some warnings signs of a heavy packpack include:

  • Struggling to put on or take off the backpack
  • Pain when wearing it
  • Tingling or numbness
  • Red marks on shoulders
  • Noticeable changes in posture

The Right Way to Wear a Backpack

Aside from lightening the load by removing unnecessary items, one of the most effective ways to compensate for a heavy backpack is to wear it the right way.

The American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons suggests:

  • Distribute weight of the backpack evenly.
  • Use both shoulder straps and wear the pack close to the mid-back.
  • Use a backpack with wide, padded straps and a padded back.
  • When loading and unloading the backpack, place it on a waist-high platform (such as a desk) using your legs with a straight spine to lower the load.
  • Do not let the backpack's weight exceed 20 percent of your child’s body weight.
  • Consider using a hip strap for heavier weights.
  • Try to make frequent trips to a locker to replace books between classes.
  • Consider purchasing a backpack with wheels.
  • Purchase a second set of books for home.

Buying the Right Backpack

If you or your child's backpack doesn’t have proper support or comfort, it's probably time to look into buying a new one.

Here are some things to keep in mind when shopping:

  • A padded back is recommended to reduce pressure on the back and enhance comfort.
  • Hip and chest belt are highly recommended when the load is heavy.
  • Two contoured and padded shoulder straps reduce pressure on the shoulders and permit free movement of the arms.
  • Multiple compartments not only enhance access to the contents, but they better distribute the weight in the backpack and keep items secure.

Have a Great School Year!

By following these tips and properly using the correct backpack, you can help ensure a safer and more pain-free school year.

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