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Back-to-School Tips on Backpack Safety

Last Updated: August 07, 2010.

Four factors keep students from shouldering a too-heavy load.

SATURDAY, Aug. 7 (HealthDay News) -- As the new school year approaches, parents and children planning their "back-to-school" lists are urged to keep backpack safety in mind.

Each year, about 6,000 children in the United States experience backpack-related injuries, Linda Rhodes, an occupational therapist at MCGHealth Children's Medical Center in Augusta, Ga., explained in a news release from the medical center.

In an effort to cut down on the number of these injuries, Rhodes offers parents the following backpack safety advice:

  • Choose a lightweight backpack that doesn't add too much to your child's load. The pack should have two wide, padded shoulder straps and a padded back that will improve comfort and protect your child from being poked by the sharp points and edges of pencils, pens, rulers and other objects they need to carry.
  • Select the proper size backpack for your child. It should cover no more than three-quarters of the length of your child's back.
  • Load backpacks carefully. The maximum weight of a loaded pack should not be more than 15 percent of a child's body weight. Place the heaviest books closest to the back as they require the most body support. If a child has to lean forward to carry a pack, it's too heavy.
  • Have your child wear the pack correctly. He or she should use both shoulder straps. Carrying a backpack on one shoulder puts too much strain on one side of the upper body. The straps should be snug, but not too tight. If a backpack has a waist strap, use it to help better support the load.

More information

The American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons has more about backpack safety.

SOURCE: MCGHealth Children's Medical Center, news release, Aug. 2, 2010


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