Backpack Safety Tips


More than 20,000 backpack related injuries occur each year, according to the US Consumer Product Safety Commission. Although many factors may lead to back pain – increased participation in sports or exercise, poor posture while sitting, and long periods of inactivity – some children have backaches because they’re lugging around all of their books, school supplies, and assorted personal items all day long. Most doctors and physical therapists recommend that kids carry no more than 10% to 15% of their body weight in their backpacks.

When a backpack filled with heavy books, is incorrectly placed on your child’s shoulders, the weight’s force can pull your child backward. To compensate, your child may bend forward at the hips or arch his or her back, which can cause the spine to compress unnaturally. Because of the heavy weight, your child might begin to develop shoulder, neck, and back pain.

Kids who wear their backpacks over just one shoulder may end up leaning to one side to offset the extra weight. They could also develop lower and upper back pain and strain their shoulders and neck. In addition to back pain, improper backpack use can also lead to poor posture. Smaller children may be at a heightened risk for backpack-related injuries. These children may carry loads that are heavier in proportion to their body weight.

You may need to adjust your child’s backpack and/or reduce how much your child is carrying if he or she struggles to get the backpack on or off, has back pain, or leans forward to carry the backpack. In order to help avoid these problems, keep the following steps in mind when selecting and using backpacks.

The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommends

  1. A lightweight pack that doesn’t add a lot of weight to your child’s load. For example, even though leather packs look cool, they weigh more than traditional canvas backpacks.
  2. Two wide, padded shoulder straps. Backpacks with tight, narrow straps can dig into the shoulders and interfere with a child’s circulation and nerves. This can contribute to tingling, numbness, and weakness in the child’s arms and hands.
  3. A padded back not only provides increased comfort, but also protects your child from being poked by sharp edges on objects (pencils, rulers, notebooks, etc.) inside the pack.
  4. A waist belt and multiple compartments help to distribute the weight more evenly across the body.

10 Backpack Safety Tips

  1. Never carry more than 15 percent of child’s body weight.
  2. Load heaviest items closest to the child’s back.
  3. Lighten the load; carry only essential items.
  4. Always wear both shoulder straps.
  5. A backpack should fit over mid-back muscles and the bottom should rest in the curve of the lower back, never more than four inches below the child’s waistline.
  6. Wear a backpack with well-padded shoulder, hip and chest straps.
  7. Wear a backpack with multiple compartments to distribute weight evenly.
  8. Wear a backpack with reflective material to enhance visibility.
  9. If the backpack is too heavy, consider a backpack on wheels.
  10. If a child is experiencing back pain or neck soreness, consult your doctor or physical therapist.

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5 Tips for Getting Your Backyard Organized for Summer Gatherings


Guest blog by Alex DeMarzo

Summer’s here, which means one thing: we can finally have backyard gatherings! At long last, we have a respite from the rain, from sleet, from snow… The clouds are gone, the sun is out, it’s time to invite some folks into your backyard for a garden party or barbecue. Need a little inspiration to get you going?

1. Make sure your lawn is in good shape

Whether you’re migrating to more of an eco-friendly xeriscaping vibe or you’re keeping your grass, make sure your lawn is in good shape! You don’t want to invite guests over, only to have them step in mud or fire ants. Plus, from an aesthetic perspective, there’s nothing summery about a dying lawn. One easy way to ensure your lawn is always looking its best is to lay down AstroTurf, or another artificial lawn option. While it’s certainly an investment, it’s one that goes a long way. They require minimal maintenance, and it keeps your lawn looking fresh—year round. 

2. Ensure the rest of your backyard greenery is healthy, too

Your lawn is important, but don’t neglect other parts of your backyard, either. Trim those shrubs, branches, and flowers! Pull those weeds. Make sure everything is in tip-top shape. Just like your lawn, while this is often an issue of aesthetics, it can be a safety issue, too. With warmer weather, new types of critters come out to play. Long or unkempt lawns, weeds, or untrimmed shrubbery can create nests or homes for rats, snakes, or worse! If you’re going to have folks in your backyard, the last thing you’d want is for someone to get bitten or even just freaked out!

3. Get an exterminator out there, if you need to

Making sure critters don’t have a place to live is an excellent place to start, but it’s not always the last step. If you do have a pest problem, whether it’s mosquitos, wasps, rats, or snakes, make sure you deal with it before you have people come over. Once you’ve got the landscaping bit out of the way, it’s simple. Don’t overlook this one or get lazy! Remember: during the winter, critters come inside; during summer, the outdoors is their turf. 

4. Think about how you’re going to decorate… or if that’s necessary.

Some people are lucky enough to have built-in lighting and, in some cases, even furniture. Consider the time of day and the type of activities you’d like to do during your backyard gathering. Decor considerations to include are lighting, citronella candles if you need them, additional embellishments. If you’re going to have a lot of people over, you may want to invest in fold-out lawn chairs. Maybe now’s the time to install that fire pit you’ve been eyeing. Maybe you want to finally invest in that BBQ. Treat your outdoor space like you would any indoor space, and make sure it’s designed for comfort and that you’re maximizing your space. Make sure that you have a place to throw things away! Nobody wants garbage.

5. Clean up

This is a broad one, but as important as anything else on this list. Make sure your space is clean! Pressure clean your deck or patio, replace any broken tiles or planks of wood, and wash down that lawn furniture. These things stay outside year round, so they’re more likely to get dirty. You want your guests to feel comfortable enough to eat and socialize outdoors. Pressure cleaners are cheap to rent, and finding someone who can do the cleaning for you can also be extremely affordable. One other consideration: If you don’t have a bathroom that’s specifically designed for your patio or backyard area, make sure the area in your house where people may be walking through is clean too. 

All-in-all, before you have a big event, ensure that you’ve thought carefully about your space. It’s easy to assume that backyard parties are as easy as firing up the BBQ and having some folks over. There are a lot of moving parts, though! Make sure you’re on top of all of them. 

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9 Quick and Easy House Cleaning Tips for Busy Moms


Guest blog by Riya Sander

If you are a mom of one, two, three, or even more kids, then you will be more than aware of the time that it takes just to make sure everybody gets through each and every day unscathed! If taking care of your children was the only domestic duty you had to worry about, there’d be no problem.

Unfortunately, there is a multitude of other duties that the majority of mothers have to contend with on a daily basis, and I think it’s fair to say that chief among them is keeping the house nice and clean. The housework schedule for working moms in particular can be really hectic, so the more tips and tricks they know, the easier their lives will be! Here are some quick and easy cleaning tips for working moms!

1. Energy Efficient Washing Machine

This should be the most important thing in your kitchen! Pick an energy efficient washing machine and it can make a huge difference to doing laundry. Whether you want to be the owner of a front loader or a top loader washer, the key advantage is that you will be graced with a much lower electric bill than you might have previously been used to. Take a look at this super helpful article if you want to understand the differences between a front loader versus a top loader and the benefits of each type.

2. Stop Folding

Did you know that you can cut your laundry doing time in half simply by not folding it once you take it out of the machine or dryer? Don’t worry, I’m not suggesting you walk around in wrinkled clothing every day! Instead, put all clothing items on hangers in their respective bedrooms and the clothes will iron themselves out thanks to the power of gravity!

3. Oven Baking Sheet

To avoid the bottom of your oven becoming the disgusting greasy mess that it tends to get after a little while, cut out a covering sheet of baking paper and place it along the lowest surface in your cooker. This paper will act as a big collecting plate for the grease and other bits that fall down as time goes by. When the time comes for cleaning, all you have to do is remove and replace the baking sheet rather than scrubbing on your hands and knees. You can also use foil, or even buy special over liners designed to do the job. They are usually washable to be reused.

4. Rubber Glove Pet Hair

If you have a cat or dog and are plagued with constant pet fur all over your furniture, then an easier way to deal with it than lint rollers is to use a pair of new rubber gloves. Pop them on, get them slightly wet and then proceed to rub your hands all over your furniture. You will see that the pet fur comes away in big clumps that you can then dispose of in a neat and tidy fashion.

5. Sweep As You Leave

Instead of letting dust and debris build up on your floors over a period of time, you should get into the habit of sweeping yourself out of a room every time you are leaving it. This is a fun little habit to pick up and ensures that your floors never have the chance to accumulate the kind of mess that can take a much longer time to clear up.

6. Invest in a Long Extension Cord

Vacuuming can take a lot of your time, and even more if you have to keep unplugging from one room to plug in another. Invest in an extra long extension cord (such as one on a reel) and you will only have to plug and unplug once. The cord will also come in handy for jobs in the garden or garage.

7. Ditch Paper Towels

Paper towels might be an instant fix to messy spills, but they pose the risk of creating their own heap of mess by filling up trash cans and coming apart in overly wet and sloppy incidents. Instead, switch to using microfiber or organic cotton towels that you don’t throw away but rather put in to your washing machine when they reach their dirt limit! This prevents your bins from filling up with paper towels, and you can also do your bit for the environment by making house cleaning more ethical and sustainable.

8. Get the Kids to Do Their Bit

If you engender good habits in your little ones they can help out as well as learning valuable lessons. As they age ensure they know to always put their toys away, keep their bedrooms tidy, and take their rubbish out. The tidier and cleaner your kids are, the easier the household chores are for you.

9. A 5-Minute Bathroom Fix

Cleaning the bathroom is everyone’s least favorite chore. Ceramic tiles are a great low-maintenance bathroom surface but they still need a little bit of love to keep them looking great. The good news is that you don’t have to waste precious time and money in order to get the smallest room in the house sparkling clean.

Everyday household items can be used to achieve a brilliant shine on any ceramic surface. A mixture of vinegar and water applied with a microfiber cloth is a fabulous non-toxic way to get your tiles, sinks, and showers spotless. For tougher stains, add some baking soda to make a paste and apply with an old toothbrush. Leave for 5 minutes and just wipe the paste away. Easy!

When you have multiple tasks to fit in every day as well as keeping a watchful eye on your children, it pays to be organised. Tidy as you go, use precious time when the kids are playing or asleep wisely, and always put things away at the end of the day. Find more cleaning tips online and incorporate them into your routine for happier, healthier days.

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