Many children walking to and from school on Ridgeland Avenue are carrying what appear to be very heavy backpacks?#34;even very small children. “Backpack Safety America” offers the following advice for parents (and teachers) in order to avoid possible back injury:

1) Ensure that your child’s backpack is sturdy and appropriately sized. Some manufacturers offer special child-sized versions for children, age 5-10. These packs weigh less than a pound and have shorter back lengths and widths to prevent slippage.

2) Consider more than looks when choosing a backpack. An ill-fitting pack can cause back pain, muscle strain or nerve impingement. To help distribute the load, look for packs with padded shoulder straps and waist straps.

3) Ensure that the weight of your child’s pack does not exceed 15% of his or her body weight. For a 75-pound child, that’s a little more than 11 pounds.

4) Avoid overloading by prioritizing the items your child carries and eliminating unnecessary contents.

5) Teach your youngster to pack his or her backpack by evenly distributing the contents throughout the pack.

6) Insist that your child never carry a backpack on one shoulder. Both shoulder straps?#34;as well as the waist strap?#34;should be used at all times.

Louise Simons

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