A Hidden Back-To-School Hazard

Back-to-school. It used to be so simple. Our mother took us to buy some new clothes and a few supplies.  These days it is quite a production. There long lists of supplies to purchase, may of which used to be provided by schools, and hidden pitfalls to be aware of.

In my Fox News Latino article I explain possible risks to be aware of when buying your child’s backpack and warning signs to be aware of throughout the year.

Hidden Back-To-School Hazard: The Backpack

By , Published August 25, 2012 Casa Latina

I know this from experience. Selecting a backpack for my child is no easy task. I dare not embark on this seemingly simple undertaking by myself. Like my daughter, every child seems to have unwritten rules and secret expectations when it comes to his or her new backpack.

In my experience, a child’s main concern is color, style (Spiderman or Dora) and size.  As a parent mine is durability, material and padding. It’s wonderful that today’s backpacks offer so many options. However before taking your child to select the backpack of his or her choice, there are some issues you should be aware of.

Kids do a lot more homework today than we used to do. So naturally, there are more books and supplies to lug back and forth on a daily basis. I am absolutely shocked at how heavy my daughter’s backpack can get and – as I recently learned – of the back problems this may cause in the future.

So as Lou Paradise, president and chief of research of Topical BioMedics, explained to me, it is important to select a heavy duty backpack with straps that properly fit your child and that has padded backs and straps.

Here a few additional backpack safety tips that I will be implementing this school year:


It is important to teach your child to pack as lightly as possible and only carry what is necessary to avoid any excess weight. I suggest developing a routine and go through the backpack together on a regular basis to make sure you child only carries what he or she needs. I do this with my daughter every Monday.

A heavy or incorrectly worn backpack can eventually cause serious back, neck and shoulder pain.  So a good rule of thumb to consider is that a backpack should weigh no more than 10% -20% of your child’s body weight.


I know kids think it looks cool to wear only one strap and have the backpack slung off to one side but both straps should always be worn. And they should be positioned on the back between the shoulders, not resting on their lower back or hips.

Make sure both straps are tight so the backpack sits close to the body and has less movement. And the straps should always be positioned on the back between the shoulders, not resting on their lower back or hips.


Be aware of the following signs in order to recognize any issues that may arise early:

  • If there is a change in posture when you child is wearing the backpack
  • If your child has to struggle when they put on or take off the backpack
  • If your child has red marks from the shoulder straps after he or she removes the backpack

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