A backpack is an essential part of any school child’s life, but how much do you know about using a backpack safely? If your children’s bags are stuffed full of heavy supplies/ textbooks, they might be causing health problems including back or shoulder pain and poor posture. If your child complains about the weight, is experiencing numbness or tingling, or visibly struggles while picking up or carrying the bag, you should be concerned.
The general rule is that a backpack should weigh no more than 10 percent of a child’s weight. Backpacks should not be too large to limit the amount of weight that can be carried. Packs should also have two straps and your child should use both of them.
Other things to look for, according to the National Safety Council (NSC) are:
- An ergonomic design
- The correct size: never wider or longer than your child’s torso and never hanging more than four inches below the waist
- Padded back and shoulder straps
- Hip and chest belts to help transfer some of the weight to the hips and torso
- Multiple compartments to better distribute the weight
- Compression straps on the sides or bottom to stabilize the contents
- Reflective material
The NSC also warns against rolling backpacks because they come with other hazards. The biggest solution is to help your kids learn what items need to be in their packs and what items don’t need to be there. If they learn to prioritize, they will avoid carrying extra items and weighing-down their backpacks. If you find that your kid is being required to carry too many heavy items to and from school, it might be good to talk to the teacher about how you can best solve the problem.