We’d like to offer the following basic backpack safety tips for parents as proposed by the Backpack Safety America organization, co-founded by Dr. Marvin T. Arnsdorff.
- Make sure the backpack is sturdy and appropriately sized. Some manufacturers offer special child-sized versions for children ages 5 to 10. These packs weigh less than a pound and have shorter back lengths and widths so they do not slip around on the back.
- Consider more than looks when choosing a backpack. An ill-fitting pack can cause back pain, muscle strain or nerve impingement. You want to have padded shoulder straps to avoid pressure on the nerves around the armpits. Some backpacks have waist straps designed to stabilize the load. These should be used whenever possible.
- The proper maximum weight for loaded backpacks should not exceed 15 percent of the child’s body weight. For example, an 80-pound child should not carry more than 12 pounds in a pack. If the pack forces the carrier to bend forward, it is overloaded.
- In loading, it is obvious that excessive backpack weight can cause problems. Prioritizing the pack's content is very important. Avoid loading unnecessary items. It is important to balance the weight of the contents or the body will shift into unnatural postures to compensate.
- Often ignored is the act of lifting and positioning the backpack. Lifting 20 pounds improperly can cause damage. Follow these simple steps: 1) Face the backpack before you lift it. 2) Bend at the knees. 3) Using both hands, check the weight of the pack. 4) Lift with your legs, not your back. 5) Carefully put one should strap on at a time; never sling the pack onto one shoulder.
- Use both shoulder straps. Make them snug but not too tight. Carrying the backpack on one shoulder, while fashionable, can cause long-term neck, shoulder, back and postural problems. Use the stabilizing strap around the waist.
While at DMS it is strongly recommended that students use their lockers to store books throughout the day. For example: drop off books into locker before homeroom and gather books for the morning, at lunch switch books for afternoon and then collect needed books into backpack at end of the day.