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Reminder: Wear Backpacks Safely To School

Reminder: Wear Backpacks Safely to School

Every school day, students of all ages carry around books, school supplies, lunches, jackets and personal items as they travel to and from school and between classes.

A backpack is an essential item — everything from being a practical means of toting important belongings, to being a decorated reflection of the student’s personality and a symbol of their self-reliance.

Heavy loads, though, and improperly fitted backpacks can lead to back pain and even injuries. It is important for parents and school staff to be aware of a few safety basics when it comes to strapping on that pack.

How much weight is too much for a student’s backpack?

Properly fitted backpacks that are not too heavy can prevent injuries.

A child’s backpack should weigh no more than 10 to 15 percent of their weight. If your child weighs 70 pounds, that means a bag weighing 7 to 10 pounds — which is a couple of books, a full water bottle, a jacket and healthy lunch — could be pushing it.

Finding ways to lighten the load can mean less muscle soreness, less fatigue and a happier student ready for academic success.

It’s simple to keep kids safe from the discomfort and pain that can be caused by backpacks.

Choosing the best backpack

  • Select a backpack that is the correct size for the child — if it looks too big, it’s likely not the best size.
  • Pick a backpack with padded shoulder straps.
  • Find a backpack with a padded back for extra comfort.
  • Pick a pack with extra pockets and use the compartments to distribute the weight evenly.
  • If carrying heavy items is a must, consider a backpack that has wheels — if allowed by the school.

Wearing it right

  • Keep the load light — if the student has to lean forward, the pack is too heavy.
  • Heavy items should sit near the center and closest to the back.
  • Encourage children to use both shoulder straps rather than hanging the back pack on one side.
  • Secure the sternum strap and the hip belt.
  • Check that the backpack fits snugly and rests comfortably on the back.

At the very least, helping a student be aware of the potential for injury can be helpful in prevention. Apply these basics to make a difference and set students on a path to healthy backpack-wearing habits.

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Greg Crump

Greg Crump is a senior communications consultant for Kaiser Permanente and the father of two school-aged children. He has more than a decade of experience working with nonprofits, community organizations and local government.

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