TAMPA - I brought my daughter Jackie to meet up with Bevin Maynard- a child safety advocate with St. Joseph's Hospital in Tampa because I knew Jackie's backpack has been heavy to the point it had to be hurting her.
She weighs around 76 pounds so Bevin says her backpack should weigh 8 to 12 pounds. No more. We put it on a scale and it weighed, "17 pounds, so definitely well over the recommended weight limit there." Not unusual Bevin adds. "You heard her say all the things she has in there she needs, so maybe parents and teachers can work together and find a way to limit all the paper and other things in there."
This is what can happen if your child is carrying 17 pounds on their back every day. "They dig into their shoulders. They'll complain of backpack pain. You saw when she went to lift it if was hard to lift, so leaning back to adjust for that puts additional strain on their spine. We do have doctors and chiropractor that have kids coming in complaining of back pain."
Bevin says you need to make sure your backpack is centered on your back. And that it's important to wear it the right way. The pack shouldn't hang past your bottom. Adjust the straps to pull it up. And use the front adjustor - even if it doesn't look cool.
Bevin is also concerned with kids getting safely to school. She says walking or biking, if you can, is the healthiest way, but there are safety issues. "Children are impulsive. They don't' judge speed well. Sometimes parents are nervous letting them go on their own. So we encourage walking school buses or what we call bike trains, where maybe one parent takes three kids to school and they walk or bike together. Before you even get on your bike you're going to have to do a quick a-b-c- check, which is simple. Air, brakes and chain. You don't want your chain coming off while you're half way to school."
Wear bright clothes and always a helmet - conducting the 1-2-3' s of helmet fitting.
The helmet covers your forehead so when you look up you see the rim. Make sure the clip rests just below the ear. And tighten the chin strip one-finger snug.
For more information go to www.stjosephschildrens.org
For a 25 dollar bike helmet that costs 10 dollars go to the Safety Store 813-554-8510.