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Backpacks Done Right

Packs are handy for school and play, but many kids carry them the wrong way

It may still feel like the dead of summer, but the stores are already stocking up on back-to-school supplies, and soon it will be time to start loading the kids' backpacks for the first day of school. Today's hefty school supplies and books make backpacks a must for any student, but used improperly, they can cause serious back strain. To prevent discomfort and injury, follow these tips for selecting and carrying backpacks:

  • Choose backpacks with wide, padded straps and a cushioned back.
  • Pack light, keeping the total weight under 15 to 20 percent of the carrier's weight. If your child leans forward to compensate for the bag's weight, it's too heavy!
  • Place heavier objects in the center of the backpack, and use all the pockets.
  • Lift a heavy backpack by facing it, bending at the knees, lifting with your legs and putting the straps on one at a time.
  • Always use both arm straps and the waist strap. They should be snug, but not tight.
  • While rolling packs are a good alternative, they need to be carried up stairs, don't always fit in a locker and can be difficult to pull through snow. Some schools discourage them, so check with your school before you buy.

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Last Updated 04/10/2009