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A safe and healthy school year

It’s time to get ready!

Photo: SDI Productions/iStockphoto

Heading back to school can be an exciting time for kids – picking out new supplies, seeing their friends again and more!

As you and your child get ready for the new school year, how about taking a few minutes to talk about some safety and health basics?

(Back)pack it safely

“Backpacks that are too heavy can cause a lot of problems for kids, like back, neck and shoulder pain, as well as poor posture,” the National Safety Council says.

When picking out a backpack, first look at the size of it. It shouldn’t be wider than your child’s torso or hang more than 4 inches below their waist. Adjustable, padded shoulder straps help distribute the weight of the backpack on your child’s back. Using waist and chest straps will also help distribute the weight.

Then, help lighten the load:

  • Encourage your child to use both shoulder straps. Carrying a backpack on one shoulder can cause muscle pain and posture problems.
  • Tighten the shoulder straps so the backpack is fitted to your child’s back. A dangling backpack can cause spinal misalignment and pain.
  • Load the backpack with the heaviest items placed closest to the bottom and center of the back of the backpack. Use the backpack’s compartments to distribute the weight.

Stay ‘SAFE’ on the bus

Kids who take the bus to school should arrive at their stop about five minutes before the bus is scheduled to arrive. While waiting, the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration says, they should to play it “SAFE”:
Stay five steps away from the curb.
Always wait until the bus comes to a complete stop and the bus driver says it’s OK to get on.
Face forward after you find a seat and sit down.
Exit the bus after it comes to a complete stop, looking left, right and left again for cars and other people before stepping off.

Parents: Do you drive near school buses? Here’s a reminder of what the flashing light colors mean:
Yellow: Slow down. The bus is going to stop and kids are going to be either getting on or off.
Red: Stop. Kids are getting on or off the bus. Don’t drive forward until the red lights stop flashing and the bus begins to move.

Healthy lunches

If your child brings a lunch from home, remember to pack smart. Aim for whole grain breads, fruits and vegetables – and toss in a bottle of low-fat milk (with a cold pack) or water instead of juice or soda. Need more ideas? The Cleveland Clinic offers some at health.clevelandclinic.org/how-to-pack-a-healthier-school-lunch-for-your-child.

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