As a father of five, I’ve had dozens of conversations with my kids about different safety issues over the years. We’ve talked about riding bikes safely, crossing the street, seatbelts, strangers, drugs and alcohol, good nutrition, fire safety, playground safety and other topics that always come to the forefront as kids go back to school.
One safety issue related to our kids that’s often overlooked is the issue of backpack safety. In fact, the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission reports that more than 14,000 children are treated for backpack-related injuries each year, and about 5,000 end up in the emergency room.
Kids often end up with pain in the upper back, neck and hips because they lean forward to carry heavy backpacks. Shoulders and knees can become tight and stiff. Musculoskeletal injuries can be aggravated. Kids can lose their balance and injure themselves or others.
The problem isn’t the backpacks themselves. In fact, backpacks represent a healthy way to carry weight because they’re designed to balance the load across the human body’s strongest muscles in the back and abdomen. The problems are related to heavy loads and improper use.