Backpack safety tips: How to prevent body pain, strain

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August 17, 2015 by HCDE Communications

Backpack safety tips: How to prevent body pain, strainBackpack safety is probably the last thing a teacher would be thinking about this time of year. Class rosters and sprucing up the classroom might top your list. However, school-based physical therapists and occupational therapists are concerned about the physical strain and pain in transporting books and school materials. That goes for both students and teachers.

How heavy is that load of books and materials that you or your students carry each day? If you’re 150 pounds, you should be carrying no more than 15 pounds in your bag. At 50 pounds, your student should carry no more than five pounds.

Here are some basic safety tips to consider for the school year:

  • Choose the right size backpack: A small child needs a small backpack
  • The backpack should fit snugly, with the backpack bottom at or slight below the waistline.
  • Load the heaviest items closest to your back or your child’s back.
  • Use of both shoulder straps and the waist strap will distribute the weight evenly.
  • Observe the 10 percent rule: A 50-pound student should only carry five pounds.

The U.S. Consumer Product and Safety Commission says about 7,000 kids ages 5-14 each year are injured due to backbacks. Statistics show that over half of the student population carries too heavy a load in their backpacks.

Help relieve backpack strain and pain by sharing this blog. Remember to lighten your load!

About the Blogger: Jean Polichino, OTR, MS, FAOTA, is senior director of School-Based Therapy Services at Harris County Department of Education. Her passion for school therapy is evident in her state and national committee involvement and her contributions to professional publications. This devotion is exceeded only by family, which includes a couple of sassy canines of the shepherd variety.

View our public service video for more information:

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