A Message From the Nurse About Backpack Awareness

Here are some helpful hints for Children and Backpack Safety from Sheryl Woodward, RN, BSN your School Nurse.

Backpacks can be a pain in the neck…back, and shoulders but by doing your homework you can spare your child a few aches and pains.  An improperly sized or poorly packed backpack can cause muscle strain or loss of blood circulation.

 Follow these quick guidelines with backpacks:

  1. Fitting a backpack:  Select a backpack with two wide, padded shoulder straps to help distribute the weight evenly over your child’s shoulders and back.  Wearing it just over one shoulder makes the weight distribution uneven and may lead to pain and tingling in the neck, arms and hands.

The backpack should rest in the curve of the back and not more than 4 inches below the waistline per the American Occupational Therapy Association.

Select a backpack made of durable but lightweight fabric.  Leather or trendy embellishment may look great but may add weight and put more stress on your child’s muscle.

  1.  How to pack a backpack. Arrange items from heaviest to lightest.  Pack the heaviest item closest to your child’s body.  Make sure any sharp or pointy objects are away from the body.  Use side pockets to help distribute weight and keep smaller items from shifting.

The backpack should weigh no more the 10% of the child’s body weight.  This means a student weighing 100 pounds should not wear a backpack heavier than 10 pounds.

Check your child’s backpack frequently and make sure they are carrying only needed items to reduce the weight and stress on their bodies.

Information obtained from American Occupational Therapy Association and National Safety Council of Nebraska.