Backpacks are best for students when used safely

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By Grace Angotti

It’s back to school time and time to get all that school equipment ready for your child, be it a young child or teen. There is a lot to get done by the first day of school

Back-packs are necessary school equipment for children and youth nowadays, from preschoolers to college students.

They were developed to help distribute weight evenly among the strong muscles of the shoulders, back, hips and legs. They can be a great help to students when used as intended. When used incorrectly, they can injure muscles and joints. Students may then experience posture problems, as well as severe pain in the back, neck or shoulders. For clarification, backpack weight does not cause scoliosis, a sideways curvature of the spine.

Here are tips for using backpacks safely:

• Choose the right backpack – take time to try them on; do not just select from the rack

• Keep in mind the size of your child: the smaller the child, the smaller the backpack

• Look for these characteristics to prevent injury: wide, padded shoulder straps; two shoulder straps; padded back; waist strap; light in weight; rolling pack for pulling, if needed. (Check with your school to see if these are approved for use by students.)

• Wear the pack using both straps, to distribute the weight evenly across the back

• Tighten the straps to keep the pack close to the back and the weight at chest height

• Keep the weight light, not more than 15-20 percent of the child’s body weight

• Pack heavier things low and in the center of the pack

• Leave out unnecessary items that are not required for the day

• Lift pack by bending at the knees

• Exercise to build muscle strength

Suggestions for parents:

• Ask your child to tell you about numbness, tingling or discomfort in the arms or legs

• Watch your child lifting and carrying the pack to make sure it is fitting properly and not too heavy. If necessary, have the child carry some books in her arms to balance the load

• If your child complains of back pain, lighten the pack or readjust itto be comfortable, or take him to a medical professional

• Talk with your child about the importance of stopping at lockers during the day to exchange books and supplies needed for classes

This information was shared by Dr. Carole Gnatuk, senior Extension specialist for child development, University of Kentucky; College of Agriculture, Food and Environment, sourced from OrthoInfo (2013). Backpack Safety. The American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons.

Can those veggies

Visit the RiverView Farmers Market and then stop of the Extension office for the latest information, “Home Canning the Right Way:  New UK Extension Canning Publications,” that are now available.

Hopefully, you have visited the farmers market this summer and purchased some of that wonderful local, fresh, vine-ripe produce. It is so good! Yes, your garden and the local farm stands and the farmers market is bursting with fresh produce, and home canning season is in full swing. Our local producers are ready and willing to sell you quantities of many vegetables to can or freeze.

If you are canning or freezing this summer, be sure to use only tested recipes that follow USDA safe canning recommendations. Stop by my office, to get your copies. 

These publications provide research-based information for safe home canning.  They cover home canning basics, jams and jellies, tomatoes, salsa, pickles, vegetables and fruits. 

We also have publications on freezing, making jams and jellies, making pickles and relishes, canning meats and drying. Stop in soon!

Source:  Debbie Clouthier, Extension Associate for Food and Nutrition, University of Kentucky College of Food, Agriculture and Environment

Dates of interest

Aug. 11: Cover Girls Quilters, 5:30-7:30 p.m., table runner project, bring own work, guests welcome. Extension office.

Aug. 14: Diabetes Support Group, 10 a.m. -noon. All interested are welcome. Extension office.

Aug. 19: Extension Homemakers Kick-Off, ice cream social, 6:30 p.m. Extension office. 

Grace Angotti is Carroll Co. Extension agent for family and consumer sciences. Call her at (502) 732-7030 or send e-mail to gangotti@uky.edu.