Beware of those heavy school bags | Sunday Observer

Beware of those heavy school bags

Beware of those heavy school bags With the new school term about to commence, Health Ministry officials have reiterated their advice to parents of schoolgoing children to ensure their bags are not too heavy forcing them to stoop and leading to serious health problems. Community Physician, Health Education Bureau, Kapila Jayaratne told the Sunday Observer that children, especially, those in the growth stage at 11 and 12 years are at risk since this was the stage when their bodies are still developing and any weight in excess of their body weight would affect their spine and cause musculoskeletal complications. He said evidence from studies conducted recently have proved this, and showed that the maximum loads recommended for adult backpack carriers varied from 24% - 40% of the body weight. However, children and adolescents experience a period of accelerated growth and development in skeletal and soft tissues where the structures were markedly different from adults. If it is more than 10% , the heavy weight affects lung function and breathing in children and the posture tends to stoop, he said. Other effects include chronic pain mostly around the shoulder. He warned parents not to be swayed by the outward appearance of a school bag but to choose one that had enough room to contain everything, was sturdy and could withstand the rain. He said there were plenty of bags in the market but one should choose those made by reputed firms or carried the Sri Lanka Standards Institute registration mark. “They come in all types: backpacks, shoulder bags, and bags with wheels. As the price is often a problem for some parents, there are now certain outlets that sell especially made bags for schoolchildren at reasonable prices. See how many books your child has to carry with him to school daily along with his food container and bottle of water and pack the books accordingly, to ensure that the heaviest weight is not on his shoulders or back”, he advised.

Protect your child from fireworks injuries

Children are particularly vulnerable to fireworks injuries, National Coordinator Training, National Hospital of Sri Lanka, Ms Pushpa Ramya Zoysa told the Sunday Observer. She said , “Most fireworks injuries occur during the period around December 24 to January 1. Protect yourself, your family and your friends by taking precautions from fireworks.

“If you or someone you love has been a victim of injuries from fireworks, you know that your life can change with the blink of an eye. What started out as a day for celebration could turn into one filled with fear and injury. Maybe, you had to deal with burns or scars. You may have even had an accident with fireworks. If an accident does occur, minimize the damage to the eye.

In the event of an eye emergency, she gave the following instructions:

  •  Do not rub the eye. Rubbing the eye may increase bleeding or make the injury worse.
  •  Do not attempt to rinse out the eye. This can be even more damaging than rubbing.
  •  Do not apply pressure to the eye. Holding or taping a foam cup or the bottom of a juice carton to the eye are just two tips. Protecting the eye from further contact with any item, including the child’s hand, is the goal.
  •  Do not stop for medicine! Over-the-counter pain relievers will not do much to relieve pain. Aspirin (should never be given to children) and ibuprofen can thin the blood, increasing bleeding. Take the child to the emergency room at once - this is more important than stopping for a pain reliever.
  • Do not apply ointment. Ointment, which may not be sterile makes the area around the eye slippery and harder for the doctor to examine.
  • Do not let your child play with fireworks, even if his/her friends are setting them off. Sparklers burn at 1,800 degrees Fahrenheit, and bottle rockets can stray off course or throw shrapnel when they explode.

Here are a few tips to keep you and your loved ones safe this festival season:

Make sure fireworks are legal in your area before buying or using them.Never allow young children to play with or ignite fireworks. Adults should always supervise fireworks activities. Never use fireworks while impaired by drugs or alcohol. Do not buy fireworks that come in brown paper packaging, because these types of fireworks are often made for professional use and could pose a serious risk to consumers. More children under five are injured by sparklers than by any other type of fireworks. Sparklers burn at temperatures of about 2,000 degrees - hot enough to melt some metals. Never have any portion of your body directly over a fireworks device when lighting the fuse. Move back a safe distance immediately after lighting. Never try to re-light or pick up fireworks that have not fully functioned. Never point or throw fireworks at another person.

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