Backpack safety important for kids – Metro US

Backpack safety important for kids

As children prepare for summer days of hiking with friends or a week at summer camp, parents across Canada are selecting backpacks to hold their child’s belongings. But backpacks often carry heavy loads and can cause headaches, back, neck and arm pain and even nerve damage.

The Alberta College and Association of Chiropractors provides the following tips for choosing, packing and carrying a backpack:

• The top of the backpack should not extend higher than the top of the shoulder and the bottom should not fall below the top of the hipbone.

• Select a backpack made of lightweight material (such as vinyl or canvas).

• Shoulder straps should be at least two inches wide, adjustable and padded.

• The backpack should have a padded back for added protection and comfort.

• A hip strap or waist belt redistributes as much as 50 to 70 per cent of the weight off the shoulders and spine onto the pelvis, equalizing the strain on the bones, joints and muscles.

• Choose a backpack that has several individual pockets instead of one large compartment to distribute the weight evenly.

• Explore other backpack options, such as one with wheels and a pull handle for easy rolling.

• Keep the weight in the backpack below 10 per cent of the child’s body weight.

• Pack your child’s backpack so the heaviest items are closest to the body.

• Ensure your child wears both straps — slinging a backpack on one shoulder puts a lot of strain on the growing body and spine.

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