Health Benefits

Back-to-School Backpack Safety

Two young girls wearing backpacks skip down hallway.

Backpacks are a practical, fashionable solution for students. They are designed to distribute the weight of school books and supplies across the body’s strongest muscles. However, backpacks that are too heavy or worn incorrectly can cause problems.

The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommends the following tips for backpack safety:

  • Choose a backpack with wide, padded shoulder straps and a padded back.
  • Ensure your child uses both shoulder straps, since slinging a backpack over one shoulder can strain muscles.
  • Organize the contents to use all the compartments of the pack.
  • Pack heavier items closest to the center of the back.
  • The backpack should never weigh more than 10 to 20 percent of a child’s body weight (no more than four to 15 pounds at most).
  • Adjust the pack high and make sure the bottom sits at your child’s waist. If you can’t adjust the straps to achieve this, the pack is too long; look for a pack made for a shorter torso.
  • Pack light by helping your child remove unneeded items on a weekly basis.
  • Consider a rolling backpack if the school allows. It’s a good option for older students who may tote heavier loads. Remember that rolling backpacks still might be carried upstairs and could be difficult to roll in snow.

Wearing a backpack the wrong way may lead to unnecessary discomfort or pain. Adjust the backpack for proper fit and positioning; not only will it be more comfortable but also easier to use.

Following these basic backpack safety tips will lead to a healthier lifestyle for school-age children and help avoid the backpack blues.

CalPERS offers a variety of health benefits to meet the needs of our members and their families. And, now that Open Enrollment season is in full swing, you can:

  • Change your CalPERS health plan
  • Add eligible dependents
  • Remove dependents
  • Cancel your existing CalPERS health coverage
  • Enroll in a CalPERS health plan if you don’t currently have coverage

Open Enrollment ends October 4, 2019.