Schools will soon be back in session and children wearing backpacks to and from school will be a familiar sight once more. But did you know that heavy backpacks can cause long-term health problems if worn incorrectly? Here are some backpack safety tips to help your child.
The American Occupational Therapy Association (AOTA) is so concerned about this problem that they created National School Backpack Awareness Day to help children Live Life To Its Fullest by avoiding the pain and injury that can come from heavy backpacks and bags. They recently released these backpack buying tips and urge parents and caregivers to consider the following when selecting a backpack this school year:
Backpack Shopping Tips
- Appropriate size. Make sure the height of the backpack extends from approximately 2 inches below the shoulder blades to waist level, or slightly above the waist.
- Shoulders. Backpacks should have well-padded shoulder straps that can be worn on both shoulders so when packed with books, the weight can be evenly balanced by the student.
- Hip belt. Backpacks with a hip or chest belt take some strain off sensitive neck and shoulder muscles and improve the student’s balance.
- Fit. Just as your child will try on clothes and shoes when back-to-school shopping, experts say it is important to try on backpacks, too. “The right fit should be your top criteria when selecting your child’s backpack,” says Karen Jacobs, EdD, OTR/L, CPE, clinical professor of occupational therapy at Boston University, and an expert on school ergonomics and healthy growth and development of school-age children. “If you order online, be sure that the seller has a return policy just in case the backpack is not quite the best fit for your child and needs to be exchanged.”
AOTA also recommends that, when school is back in session, check that your child’s backpack weighs no more than 10% of his or her body weight. If it weighs more, determine what supplies can stay at home or at school each day to lessen the load. If the backpack is still too heavy for the child, consider a book bag on wheels.
Here is a link to AOTA’s tips for backpack safety: 1, 2, 3’s of Basic Backpack Wearing,