Finally someone is hearing the silent pleas of the little population of the country – the little ones who carry to school backpacks twice their own body weight. The honourable Minister of Education has decided that children will now be carrying much less weight than they did all these days. After years of struggling with bags that pushed us into becoming little hunchbacks of Indian education system’s callousness, there is hope for every new batch of school students. But even if children are saved from the horror of carrying backpacks twice their weight, they may be heavy enough to hurt their backs. If they do not handle the backpacks with care, they may end up developing back issues and all kinds of pain in the neck, shoulders and back. Thus, basic safety when it comes to backpacks is a must.
Tips On Safe Backpack Use
Here are a few things one must remember when it comes to carrying and loading a backpack safely.
When choosing a backpack for your child, you must consider the following:
- Its size is appropriate to the child’s age, height and weight.
- It has well padded shoulder straps to give comfort and support to the shoulders.
- It includes a waist belt to be fastened for extra support and to help transfer the weight from the shoulders to the body's trunk and hips.
- It has reflective trim to increase visibility when carrying the backpack in the evening.
- If you wish to be absolutely sure about the backpack that you are buying, you may even carry the books that your child normally carries and put them inside the bag while checking.
Here are the ways to load the backpack right, so that it gives the best output:
- Never allow a child to carry more than 15% of his or her body weight. For example, a child who weighs 100 lbs should not carry a backpack weighing more than 15 pounds.
- Load heaviest items closest to the child's back.
- Pack all items neatly to keep books and materials from sliding around in the pack.
- If a backpack is too heavy, consider using one on wheels.
- Always make sure the child uses both shoulder straps to distribute weight evenly.
- Adjust the shoulder straps so that the pack fits snugly, not too tightly to the child's back.
- A pack that hangs loosely from the back can pull the child backwards. This can affect balance and strain the muscles between the shoulders.
- If the bag is heavy and the child is struggling to pick it up from the ground, ask him or her to bend his/her knees while picking it up, and use the motion that weightlifters use to build their biceps. Bending the back to pick up the backpack may hurt the lower back.