It’s that time of year again: A new school year is dawning! It’s a time of new friends, new beginnings, but also new injury risks. Here are some tips to stack the odds in your family’s favor.
Diet and Exercise
Healthy school lunches and healthy exercise are an opportunity to protect your child’s heart, decrease future
diabetes and arthritis risks, and create positive self-esteem. Healthy exercise can be as simple as a daily walk to school and back, and innovative communities have established safe walking routes to make this possible. Children should travel in groups and need to be aware of traffic and potential human hazards.
Should your child choose more intense forms of exercise such as recreational or organized sports, be sure they do so safely. Soccer goals, for example, need to be anchored properly. The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission notes 28 deaths between 1997 & 2007 caused by movable soccer goals that fell on children who climbed on them or hung on their crossbars.
If your child is involved in collision sports like football or even skateboarding, a proper-fitting
helmet can literally be life-saving. And if your child enjoys playing on the playground, be sure it’s a safe one. The U.S.
Consumer Product Safety Commission recommends a minimum of 9 inches of shock-absorbing material in the event of a fall from playground equipment. Clothing can itself be life-saving. Reflectors on shoes or garments can make a child more visible in the dark. Also, remove drawstrings from young children’s sweatshirts and jackets as they are a potential choking hazard.
Another major risk to your children’s safety is right with them all day: their backpacks. Heavy backpacks can cause growing frames to experience temporary backaches, joint pain, even muscle strains and headaches; and some children may begin a lifetime of these problems. Here’s a simple tip: Weigh your child, and then weigh his or her backpack.If you care about your child’s health and well-being — and you know you do — pull out the scale, and use it. A child’s daily backpack shouldn’t weigh more than 10% of his or her total body weight (some sources suggest a maximum of 5-10%).
In other words, a 100 pound child’s backpack should weigh under 10 pounds. For a 75 pound child, 7 1/2 pounds is the most he or she may be able to safely carry on their back. In addition to stressing young frames and growing structures, heavy backpacks cause acute injuries. A study
in Pediatrics showed that emergency room visits associated with backpacks are most highly correlated with tripping, with the head and face being the most commonly seriously injured body parts.
You can protect your kids just by pulling out the bathroom scale: Don’t hesitate to take these precautionary steps before sending them back to school!