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Backpack Safety for Children
Backpacks are great for children and teenagers with busy school schedules and homework. Multiple compartments and zippered pockets help kids to keep books, notebooks and school supplies organized and accessible. Various styles, fabrics and colors make them fashionable and cool.
Although backpacks are convenient for carrying books and supplies to and from school, many children have not learned how to use them properly. Today, the risk of backpack injuries is a real health concern for parents.
Wearing a Backpack Properly
Reduce the Risk of Injury
Wear backpacks with a padded strap securely over each shoulder, which helps distribute weight evenly. Organize books and supplies in compartments with the heaviest items placed near the center of the back, with lighter items placed to the sides.
Medical experts recommend children should carry no more than 10-15% of their body weight on their backs. They can limit the load by carrying only books and supplies necessary for classes or homework. Store unnecessary items in a school locker or leave at home. Overloaded backpacks may cause your child to become unbalanced, which could lead to accidents and falls.
Excessive weight and improperly carried backpacks may cause back injury to children and teens. They may complain of neck, back and shoulder pain or numbness and tingling in the fingers or arms. Sometimes these symptoms are related to backpack injuries. If your child has pain that persists or is severe, seek a doctor's advice.
Other Safety Issues to Consider
Teaching children to use a backpack properly may reduce the risk of injury to themselves and others nearby.
Overloaded or over-sized backpacks could cause your child to fall especially when running, boarding or exiting a school bus or on a stairway.
A heavy school bag can bump against someone at school or on a school bus causing injuries or an accident.
A backpack left on the floor, may cause someone to trip over it and be injured. It's important to teach children how to care for their backpack when not in use to avoid accidents.
Back to School: Backpack Safety
Safe Durable Backpack for Kids
I love the Lego Elite Police design...it incorporates reflective details so your child is more visible. Little Lego fans will love using this bag and mothers will appreciate the safety features in a durable backpack.
Tips for Choosing the Right Backpack for Your Child
Follow Safety Guidelines
Shopping for a new backpack for school is exciting! Children often choose designs such as Disney or favorite movie themes so they can show them off to their friends, however most young children are not aware of the safety issues. It's up to us as parents to teach them the importance of choosing a bag that is functional and safe.
1. Choose a backpack made of lightweight fabric that is sturdy without adding extra weight to the load inside. Check zippers and snaps to make sure they are working properly.
2. Backpacks are available in different sizes, shapes and styles. Choosing the correct size for your child is important. It should fit your child from two inches below the shoulder blades to the waist. Experts recommend trying the backpack on your child to make sure it fits comfortably.
3. Choosing a bag with two padded shoulder straps and padded back will reduce stress on the shoulders and lower back. A hip belt will take some weight off the neck and shoulder muscles and help keep your child balanced.
4. The color or design does not matter as long as it fits your child properly and meets the safety guidelines needed to protect your child from back or neck injuries. The Lego City Classic backpack above is a good example of a safe durable bag for kids.
AOTA's National School Backpack Awareness Day: Sept. 20, 2017
Backpack Safety for Kids
The AOTA's National School Backpack Awareness Day promotes backpack safety for kids. Parents and children learn how to pack and carry a backpack safely and avoid injuries.
The American Occupational Therapy Association has created an Ot Rex Junior printable coloring page in recognition of AOTA's National School Backpack Awareness Day. This educational page will help parents teach young kids about backpack safety.
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