Back to school: Lighten backpacks, other safety tips

Published On: Aug 11 2014 11:33:23 AM EDT

By Mayo Clinic News Network

Depending where you live, the school year is about start anew or has already begun. Mayo Clinic experts would like to help lighten the load. Family medicine physician and pediatrician Alva Roche Green, M.D., says a great place to start is easing the burden in those heavy backpacks kids often lug around.

· Check backpack weight – ideal weight is no more than 10 percent of total body weight. Example – a 100-pound teen would carry 10 pounds. Talk with children to prioritize what needs to be carried home or invest in a rolling/wheeled backpack.

· Hand hygiene – washing hands is the number one thing children can do to prevent the spread of germs. Wash for at least 60 seconds. To engage little ones, tell them to sing the “ABCs” or “Happy Birthday” as they wash their hands. If water is not available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer or wipes.

· Stranger danger – remind children never to approach strange people or animals. If you have someone outside of the ordinary picking up your child from school, consider giving children a password so that if they are being asked to go with someone they don’t know, they can ask for the "secret" word.



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