MCG, Augusta Tech students teach backpack safety

By: Meredith Taylor
By: Meredith Taylor

September 20, 2006

Watch your back!

That's the advice students from MCG and Augusta Technical College were giving out at local schools today.

By packing your child's backpack light, you’re making sure they're wearing it right.

In a child's world, it's all about a cool, hip backpack. But being fashionable shouldn't bypass safety.

"The kids don't seem well aware of the weight," Augusta Tech student Julie DeMott told News 12.

Occupational therapy students from MCG and Augusta Tech are making that message known by visiting several area schools and weighing in on what might be wrong.

"It's heavy because usually we don't have one textbook," said 9-year-old Taylor Giles. "Yesterday we had two."

Students shouldn't carry more than 15% of their body weight because of the risk of back, neck and shoulder injuries. The occupational therapy students weighed children's backpacks to show them the danger.

Taylor's bag was just under what she can carry, while 9-year-old Quinn Webb was almost seven pounds over the limit.

"Tthey're all big textbooks, so it's heavy, really heavy," he said.

If you don't want the worry of back problems from these, try a rolling bag. Teachers at Belair Elementary recommend these, especially for the older kids because they have heavier textbooks.

But if you must carry, use both straps and a hip belt if it's available, and pack correctly. The heaviest items should be against your back.

Unless you're weighing in every day, there's no telling your load.

"If you aren't aware early on, then you keep perpetuating the bad habits," DeMott said. "It's just going to get worse."

Today's evaluations were part of National Backpack Awareness Day.

MCG has seen up to a dozen kids a year with backpack related injuries.

For more information on backpack safety, click here.

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