Bunk Bed Safety Tips

February 1, 2011
bunk bedsIn the Bedroom

Each year, countless numbers of children under the age of 15-years old are treated at emergency rooms all over the country due to accidents and injuries related to bunk beds and lack of safety.  Most of the injuries sustained from bunk beds are minor and preventable and happen when a child falls off the top bunk or through the guard rails.  Bunk beds are commonly used as a child’s first bed after outgrowing the baby crib and the beds can also be used separately for older children as well.

Most often when children are injured in a bunk bed accident it is because of rough house playing and being careless.  There are very serious hazards which can be directly attributed to bunk beds that a parent should keep in mind, not only does it protect children, but it also protects others from injuries as well.  Bunkbed structures have trapped children and in the worst case scenario, can suffocate and kill a child, so it pays to be mindful of safety when installing bunk beds in your children’s bedroom.

One thing parents need to be aware of when installing bunk beds is guardrail spacing, which is the area between the rail and mattress.  If the space is too large, a child can become trapped and strangled, or could slip and fall, breaking a bone or suffering a concussion after landing on a hard floor.  Guardrails that are attached to the bed by hooks can become dislodged and a child can get trapped under the rail or fall as well, so you should look for rails that are sturdy, firmly attached and will be too small for a child to fall through.  Additional boards can be nailed or screwed onto the frame in order to close up any gap that is smaller than 3 ½ inches, in order to prevent strangling or falling accidents.

Commonly, bunk beds are used with one side up against a wall and sold with only one rail guarding the upper mattress.  However, this can be very dangerous because a young child can be jumping on the bed and if the bunk bed unit is flimsily crafted or light weight, it can come away from the wall and wind up causing the child to fall.  A child can easily become trapped between the bed and wall and it can result in death in serious instances, which is why it is important to only use beds sold with a railing on each side and to teach children not to jump on beds.

The mattresses on some bunk beds can be constructed poorly and as a result, it is resting on nothing more than small ledge pieces on the bed frame itself.  If one of the ledge pieces were to become dislodged under the bunk, a child could fall through the frame and become seriously hurt.  In other cases, a child can be suffocated to death if the mattress falls on top of them.  Other children have been hurt by a falling mattress when playing on the floor or lower bunk, so make sure the mattress is securely attached to the bunk and reinforce the foundation using screws or bolts.

Mattresses for bunk beds are sold in 3 sizes twin, twin extra long,  and full. The extra long one is 5-inches longer than the full or twin size.  If a twin sized mattress is purchased for an extra long model of bunk bed, there will be a sizeable opening between the mattress and headboard.  Children can become trapped and strangled by falling through the opening in between the mattress headboard or footboard, so it is important to use the right size mattress for the bunk bed you purchase.

Any bunk bed selected should be solid and sturdy and the ladder should secure firmly to the frame to prevent it from slipping and falling off the bed and hurting a child.  Check the bunk bed for any loose screws or nails and if any are present, fix appropriately so that children are not scraped or scratched when getting into bed.  By observing common safety measures and checking for any defects or problems, a parent can prevent their child from becoming hurt or killed through some of the most common and preventable bunk bed dangers.

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