Backpack safety tips

Backpack safety tips


MAHASKA COUNTY – With the first day of school quickly approaching, the hunt has begun for all sorts of school supplies which includes backpacks. Mahaska Health Partnership suggests tips on how to pick the best backpack to meet a child’s needs.

“Backpacks with two straps are the best for students, compared to messenger bags, purses or cross body straps; because they utilize the strongest muscles of the body,” MHP Family Practice Nurse Practitioner Lisa Smith explained. “When worn and adjusted correctly, a backpack evenly distributes the weight across the body, helping to prevent shoulder and neck injuries.”

Even though backpacks are handy, they can cause damage if they are excessively heavy.

“It’s best to keep the weight of a backpack to 10-15 percent of a child’s body weight,” Smith recommended. “For instance, if a child is 80 pounds, they can carry approximately eight pounds. Carrying more than that can cause muscle strain, neck, shoulder and back pain.”

The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends looking for a lightweight backpack with two straps and compartments to evenly distribute weight. Find a pack with thick, padded straps to avoid nerve and circulation damage and a padded back to avoid being poked from sharp edges inside the backpack. A waist clip is also beneficial in helping to distribute weight evenly.

Small changes can significantly reduce the amount of weight your child carries in their backpack.

“Encourage your child to use their locker or desk frequently,” Smith suggested. “Help them plan homework out during the week so they don’t need to bring home every book for the weekend. Also, teach them to load the heavier items such as books, closest to the center of their backs. By making small adjustments, you can help your child reduce their risk of injury and start the new school year off right.”