Backpacks make it easy to carry all of your school essentials. Balancing all those
books, papers, notebooks, binders, and school supplies in your arms would be pretty
tough without one. And all the little zippered pockets and compartments can help keep
But backpacks also can be a real pain. Here's why: They can cause injuries if kids trip over them
or hit someone with one — accidentally or on purpose. They're heavy so you don't
want one to fall on your head or your hand. And heavy backpacks also can strain your
neck and back.
Because backpacks are a fact of kid life, let's talk about backpack safety.
Two Rules to Remember
Here are two big backpacking rules:
Watch that backpack! Like a disobedient pet, backpacks can get
away from you sometimes, so keep an eye on yours. Keep it out of the way where people
are walking, such as hallways, the middle aisle on the bus, and the walkway between
desks in class. You'll also want to watch out for falling backpacks if you've stored
it on the top shelf of your locker.
Check out your blind spot. Before taking your pack off or putting
it on, take a look around you and behind you. This is what your mom and dad do when
they back the car out of a parking space. You don't want to back into anyone with
your backpack. And, of course, don't try to hit someone with your
backpack. Loaded down with books, it's like hitting somebody with a bag of bricks.
Be Kind to Your Back, Neck, and Shoulders
Sometimes, backpacks can give a kid a backache or cause pain in the neck or shoulders.
To avoid this, follow these rules:
Use both shoulder straps so you distribute the weight evenly. Wearing your backpack
on only one shoulder may cause you to lean to one side. Adjust the straps, making
sure they aren't too loose.
Stand up straight. If your backpack makes you hunch forward or lean to one side,
you might be carrying too much weight or not using both shoulder straps.
Limit the weight. Carry as few books as possible. If you can leave a few books
behind, do so. Doctors recommend carrying no more than 10% to 20% of your body weight.
For example, if you weigh 80 pounds, your backpack shouldn't weigh more than 8 to
Give your back a break. When you can, leave your backpack in your locker and carry
just what you need.
Talk to your mom or dad if you have problems putting your backpack on or taking
it off. Also let a parent know if you have any aches, pain, tingling, or numbness
(no feeling) in your back or arms.
Tips for Buying a New Backpack
Having the right kind of backpack can prevent problems. So if it's time for you
to get a new backpack, consider these tips:
Choose a lightweight backpack so you don't add to the weight of your books and
Try a backpack with wheels. (Ask if your school allows these first. Because they
glide along the floor, they can cause tripping. And they might not fit in your locker.)
If you choose a traditional backpack, pick one with a padded back and wide, padded
straps that won't dig into your shoulders.
Look for a pack with multiple compartments inside so the weight can be distributed
Look for a pack that has compression straps on the sides. You can tighten the
straps to make your books and supplies snug in the pack. This also can keep
them closer to your back.
Hip and chest straps also can help distribute the weight and ease the pressure
on your back.
Now you know how to carry your load of books safely. Happy backpacking!