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Back-to-School Backpack Safety

As children head back to the classroom, consider a quick refresher in school backpack safety.

For starters, when selecting a backpack, look for one with wide, padded shoulders, recommends the American Academy of Pediatrics. Narrow straps can dig into a child's shoulders, causing pain and restricting circulation.

The backpack should have a padded back, which increases comfort and helps protect the child wearing it against the sharp edges of objects carried in the pack.

To prevent backpack-related injuries, the academy advises students to:

  • Pack light. The backpack should never weigh more than 10 to 20 percent of the student's body weight.
  • Always use both shoulder straps. Slinging a backpack over one shoulder can strain muscles. It also can increase curvature of the spine.
  • When organizing the backpack, pack heavier items closest to the center of the back.
  • Consider using a backpack with wheels -- especially if you must carry a heavy load. However, remember that rolling backpacks still have to be carried up stairs and that they may be difficult to roll in snow.

More information

Here's where to look for additional back-to-school tips.


Reference Source 101

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