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Back To School: Backpack Safety

Matthew Kriniske is the Director of Rehabilitation
Matthew Kriniske is the Director of Rehabilitation Photo Credit: Contributed

It’s that time of year again to dust off the alarm clock, hunt down those school supplies and reinstate routines. We at Putnam Hospital Center know the excitement -- and anxieties -- that come with going back to school. To help parents, hospital staff offer these tips to ensure your children have a successful 2014-2015 school year.

Matthew Kriniske, the director of rehabilitation, says, “As we all eagerly anticipate the start of another school year, it is time once again to take a look at our children’s backpacks.  We need to make sure they are an appropriate size and fit and packed appropriately before we send them out the door.  As they go throughout their day, it is important their backpacks do not put additional strain upon their growing and developing bodies.”

When loading a backpack be aware of the following:

  • Backpacks should not weigh more than 10 percent of a child’s body weight.  That means a child weighing 100 pounds should not have a backpack loaded heavier than 10 pounds.

  • Arrange books and materials closest to a child’s back (back of the pack) and adjust so they will not slide around in backpack.

  • If backpack is too heavy or tightly packed, then have child hand carry an item or two.

  • Monitor what is brought back and forth to school; you may find there are unnecessary items packed.

When wearing a backpack be mindful of the following:

  • Distribute weight evenly by wearing both straps. If backpack is consistently worn over one shoulder, this may cause child to lean to one side, curving the spine and causing pain or discomfort.

  • Choose a backpack with well-padded straps.  There are many blood vessels and nerves in a child’s shoulders and neck; too much pressure in this area may cause pain or tingling in the neck, arms or hands.

  • The backpack should fit snugly against the child’s back; adjust those straps and if there is a waist belt, use it! This helps to evenly distribute the weight of the backpack.

  • The bottom of the backpack should rest at the curve of the back and never below the child’s waistline.

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