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School Bag Safety – What to Look For

With the heavy load of books that children have to carry around in school, it is no wonder that safety is becoming more of an issue in regards to backpacks. Because muscles are still forming throughout childhood, it is important to choose a backpack that will carry the weight of the books rather than put stress on your child’s back. Here are some things to look for when choosing a backpack:

  • Choose a backpack that is designed to carry a heavy load of books without stressing out your child’s body. Buying backpacks with wide straps helps to even out the weight and avoids the straps digging into your child’s shoulders. For younger children, a waist belt helps to even out the weight and runs less risk of putting too much stress on the back.
  • Choose lighter weight materials such as canvas. Leather backpacks are very nice looking, but they weigh a lot more than typical canvas bags.
  • Many backpacks offer compartments in the middle as well as on either side of the bags. Have your child utilize these compartments as it will spread the weight out instead of having it centralized in one area.
  • Make sure your child wears their backpack as designed – with both straps on the shoulders. Older teens will sometimes sling the backpack over one shoulder. While this may be convenient for them, it is bad for their posture as well as shoulder and neck muscles. The weight will be unevenly distributed and can strain the neck and shoulder muscles if worn in this manner.
  • Make sure your child’s backpack is not too heavy. It is recommended that the weight of the full backpack should not exceed 10-15% of your child’s body weight. Carrying more than that can result in nerve compression as well as deformed back growth such as rounded shoulders. It can also tire out the muscles quickly.

When choosing a backpack for your child, be sure to keep safety in mind. Children should not be lifting more than 15% of their body weight and that weight should be evenly distributed throughout the backpack. Buying a backpack with compartments is a good way to distribute the weight. Have your child carry their bag on both shoulders and use a waist belt if one is attached. Keeping these safety tips in mind and instilling them will ensure that your child’s back, neck and shoulders will not suffer any deformities.

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