School Safety: Avoiding Backpack Injuries

3207761_mThousands of children are treated for backpack-related injuries each year. A pack that is too heavy, poorly designed, or carried improperly can harm your child, and cause lasting injuries. Backpack injuries include back, neck, and shoulder injuries, bruises, sprains, strains, and fractures. In addition to acute injuries, backpacks can cause poor posture and long-term injuries and pain.

Signs That Your Child’s Backpack is Too Heavy

Signs that you child’s backpack may be too heavy include:

  • Tingling or numbness
  • Red marks
  • Pain when wearing the pack
  • Change in posture when wearing the pack
  • Struggling when putting it on or taking it off

Don’t wait for your child to complain of pain or tingling and numbness. Ask you children if their packs are too heavy or if they are causing discomfort.

Safety Tips

To reduce the risk of backpack injuries:

  • Select a backpack with wide, padded shoulder straps and a padded back.
  • A waist strap on the pack can also help stabilize and support the load.
  • Your child should always wear both straps rather than carrying the pack slung over one shoulder.
  • The heaviest items should be packed close to the center of the back.
  • The backpack should not weight more than 10% to 20% of your child’s bodyweight.

If your child’s pack is too heavy, a rolling backpack may be necessary. Some schools may not allow rolling packs and you may need to talk to the school about alternatives for lightening the load. This could include purchasing a second set of books to keep at home and allowing more time for your child to exchange books at their locker between classes.

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