Backpack Safety

We are officially BACK TO SCHOOL! Getting into the swing of things can be a pain! Literally! Students toting heavy backpacks busting at the seams with textbooks, folders, calculators, etc. is an all too familiar site around campuses nationwide. Overloaded backpacks can lead to shoulder, neck, and back pain, among other problems. Between 2010 and 2011, backpack injuries in kids aged 5 to 18 increased 6.5%, from 12,924 to 13,766, according the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission.

Consider the following safety features when choosing a backpack for your child:backpackSafety

  • Lightweight
  • Two wide shoulder straps with padding
  • A padded back panel
  • A hip belt for even weight distribution
  • Reflective elements
  • Multiple variable sized compartments
  • Wheels and a pull handle

When filled, the backpack should weigh less than 10-15% of the child’s body weight. You can determine about how much 10%-15% feels like by simply weighing the backpack with contents on a bathroom scale. If the child weighs 80lbs, the backpack should weigh no more than 12lbs. To help lighten the load, remind your child to utilize his/her locker, do as much homework at school as possible (Holy Trinity offers Homework Room at the Lower School and Junior High Supervised Study at the Upper School), and unload any non-essentials. You can also find out if there are electronic versions of the textbooks he/she can use at home.


  • Lift the backpack with one’s legs not one’s back.
  • Position the backpack properly (wear both shoulder straps comfortably snug and secure the waist belt).
  • Carry the backpack no more than 30 minutes at a time.

––Betty Schwind, RN and Liana Foster, RN
School Nurses
Holy Trinity Episcopal Academy

Do you have any other backpack safety tips?
Let us know in the comments below.

3 thoughts on “Backpack Safety”

  1. I do have a tip, actually. If your child has too much in the back pack and it is necessary for it to be so, give them a hand with it. I know we are teaching our kids to be self sufficient but we are big and strong parents. We can carry a burden in the name of allowing them to move freely. Just let them know that you think they are carrying too much, help them learn to prioriize next time so they can carry less and haul that heavy load for them. They will learn to do the same for us. Self sufficient sometimes means you have to be willing to accept help and learn from your mistakes.

  2. Thank you for the helpful tips. Hopefully schools around our Nation are pushing the publishers for e-books so that the actual book can be used at school and students don’t have to curry them home. Also, it would be helpful to ask the publishers to utilize 2 or 3 books instead of just 1 big and heavy book for the whole year for each subject.

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