Backpack Safety Tips

It’s only August, but it’s not too soon to start thinking about preparing to send the kids back to school. One of your most important tasks is to purchase a well-fitting backpack in which to carry all those books and new school supplies. I know… she probably has her eye on the “Frozen” pack, but please remind her that there are other considerations when choosing a backpack! A poorly fitting backpack, or one that is worn improperly or is too heavy can cause a child to bend forward against the backward pull of the weight. This leads to muscle strain, injuries and pain in the shoulders, neck and back. To help you and your kids enjoy a healthy and happy school year, we’ve compiled a list of helpful tips.

Get the Right Backpack

  • the right size. The backpack should not be wider that the child’s shoulders and not longer than the child’s torso. Have your child sit while wearing the backpack and check that it does not sit higher than your child’s shoulders.
  • padded shoulder straps. The backpack should have 2 well-padded, wide, adjustable shoulder straps. Narrow straps can dig into shoulders.
  • padded back. A padded back helps to stiffen the pack, keeping items in place, and protects kids from being poked by sharp edges of objects inside the pack.
  • chest/waist strap. This helps to distribute the weight more evenly across the body.
  • multiple compartments. Compartments help kids stay organized and can also help to distribute the weight more evenly.

Using the Backpack

  • Adjust shoulder straps so that they are snug but not tight. Use both straps rather than slinging the pack over one shoulder.
  • Place the heaviest items closest to the child’s back.
  • Fasten the chest/waist belt.
  • Check the weight. Children should not carry more than 15% of their body weight.
  • Check the child’s posture. Are they standing erect or leaning forward? If they are leaning forward, something is not right.
  • Help your child with periodic backpack checks. Remove old papers from binders and other unnecessary items that they might have collected. You might be surprised by what you find!