image retrieved from: tucsonweekly.com
With school starting again, most kids will be asking for new backpacks to help carry their supplies to and from school. Make sure you are aware of how to help them prevent injuries by understanding backpack safety.
Every year the American Occupational Therapy Association (AOTA) has a National School Backpack Awareness Day. This years is September 19, 2012. They have also published several handouts on proper backpack use and safety tips as well as several videos for both kids and adults to watch.
It’s recommended that kids don’t carry more than 10%-15% of their body weight in a backpack in order to prevent back aches and injuries. This means if your child is 50 pounds they shouldn’t be carrying a backpack that weighs more than 5-7 pounds. With the increase in homework this may prove challenging. There are some solutions out there that are presented in this ABC’s of backpack use. Some of the practical ones suggest using backpacks with wheels, organize the backpack so that the heaviest items are the ones that are closest to the back, bigger isn’t always better (its harder to overstuff a smaller backpack).
Because of the high number of injuries from backpack use its recommended that you talk to your children about telling you if their back hurts, they have numbness or tingling. Also it helps for you to note if your child’s posture changes when they are wearing their backpack. Do they arch their back more or slump more? All of these are signs that the backpack is too heavy or not fitting correctly.
What backpacks have you found fit well and are safe for your kids?