Parents, teachers, school administrators and health care specialists are increasingly concerned about the issue of children’s health and safety with their backpacks. Injuries from heavy backpacks result in more than 7,000 emergency room visits per year, according to the Consumer Product Safety Commission. Sprains, strains, and “overuse” injuries were among the top complaints. Experts suggest checking the weight of your child’s full backpack and offer tips for selecting the most appropriate backpack for your child.
As a rule of thumb, a backpack should weigh only 15% of a child’s total weight. For example, a child that weighs 100 lbs. should have a full backpack that weighs 15 lbs., at the very most, according to the American Occupational Therapy Association. Backpack straps should be wide and padded. Make adjustments so that the bottom of the full backpack is not more than four inches below your child’s waistline. Rolling backpacks are a great option in schools that allow them. Finally, periodically check the contents and weight of your child’s backpack; you may be amazed at the amount of unneeded items.