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Backpack Awareness Day: Your Guide to Backpack Safety

Updated: Sep 22, 2023

six kids wearing school backpack

In a world where we're constantly on the move, backpacks have become an essential accessory for people of all ages. Whether you're a student heading to school, a professional commuting to work, or simply someone looking to carry their essentials, backpacks are a common sight. However, most people don't realize that improper backpack use can lead to a host of health issues, from back pain to poor posture. That's where Occupational Therapists step in, creating Backpack Awareness Day to advocate for backpack safety.

Why Backpack Safety Matters

According to the American Occupational Therapy Association (AOTA), children often carry backpacks that are too heavy for their small frames. This imbalance not only affects their physical health but can also lead to long-term problems. The good news is that with a little knowledge and preparation, you can ensure the safety of your back and your children's.

Setting an Example

One of the most effective ways to promote backpack safety is by setting an example. Serve as role models by choosing a proportionally sized backpack, using both straps and maintaining good posture. Here are some valuable tips for both kids and adults:

6 Tips For Kids:

  1. Select a backpack that is proportional to your child's size.

  2. Limit the backpack weight they carry to under 10% of their body weight.

  3. If the backpack is too heavy, ask the school for a set of books to keep at home.

  4. Shoulder straps should be padded.

  5. Teach your child to place the heaviest items closest to their back.

  6. Remove any items from the backpack that are not necessary for the day.

  7. Instill the habit of using both straps. Carrying the backpack on one shoulder can cause strain and poor posture.

4 Tips For Professionals:

  1. Choose a briefcase or laptop bag proportional to your body size, opt for the smallest size possible.

  2. Look for a bag with comfortable, adjustable, and padded straps for optimal support.

  3. Place heavier items at the base of your bag to maintain balance.

  4. To prevent strain, alternate which shoulder you carry your bag on.

5 Tips Especially for Women

  1. For quick outings, opt for smaller purses that won't strain your back.

  2. Use purses with compartments to distribute weight evenly.

  3. Choose purses with shorter, wider straps, as they are gentler on your back.

  4. Keep your load light by removing unnecessary items.

  5. To avoid back pain, regularly switch shoulders when carrying a purse and use both straps when wearing a backpack.


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