Are Bunk Beds Safe?

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For many families, bunk beds have and will always be a great solution for households with multiple children. Bunk beds give the illusion of a far larger room due to their space-saving, vertical nature. They’re the go-to choice of any house with a limited number of bedrooms, too.

However, many doting parents worry for their children’s safety before choosing bunk beds. They have to wonder if bunk beds are really safe enough for their kids. For good reason, too. According to the medical journal Pediatrics, nearly 600,000 juvenile bunk bed related injuries occurred between the years 1990 and 2005 alone. On average, roughly 36,000 injuries were reported each year in the 16 year study time frame.

Due to this study and the resulting Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act of 2008, the safety standards of bunk beds have risen throughout the past decade. Today, injuries are still fairly common, but the amount of reported injuries is on the decline overall. 

The access of widespread information on the internet has lead to a lot less injuries in children and young adults as well. In this article, we’ll go over the tips, tricks, and other safety guidelines to prevent injuries around bunk beds.

Bunk Bed Safety Tips and Tricks

First and foremost, we’ll be going over all of the tips and tricks that owners of bunk beds can use to decrease the risk of injury for themselves and their children. Your number one goal as a parent is to ensure that your children’s bunk bed is as safe as possible. There are a variety of ways to go about this, but the most important part is to employ as many as you can in order to prevent any emergency urgent care visits.

Guardrail Safety

Guardrails are one of the most important aspects of the top bunk. According to the study mentioned above, nearly 75% of bunk bed related injuries occur from falling. Even if you or your child aren’t known to be someone who rolls much in their sleep, please do your due diligence in ensuring that the guardrails are operating correctly.

Your guardrails should be a minimum of 5 inches higher than the mattress height. Anything less and you risk rolling over them and suffering a nasty fall down from the top bunk.

Additionally, the guardrails should ideally not be wide enough to allow any arms, legs, and especially heads to become stuck between them. For young children below the age of six especially, many bunk bed related injuries occur due to slates being wide enough for their bodies to get stuck between them without the ability to get out.

Consider Ditching the Bunk Bed Ladder Altogether

One way to prevent a lot of injuries altogether (especially for younger children) would be to get rid of the bunk bed ladder entirely.

Bunk beds with stairs are a great choice to go with for a variety of reasons, but the best feature is the increased safety by far. As falls account for the majority of bunk bed related injuries, ladders are the most common culprit for these hospital visits. 

If you elect to go with a bunk bed with stairs instead, then the worst you’ll likely have to deal with is a stubbed toe here and there, typically. Slips and falls do not occur nearly as often with stairs as they do with ladders.

Mattress Size

Using the correct size of mattress as detailed by your bunk bed manufacturer is another key factor in preventing injury. 

If your mattress is too large, you may risk rolling over the guardrail and falling down from the top bunk.

Conversely, if your mattress is too small, then you may risk rolling into some unintended spaces and having feet, hands, or other body parts stuck in them.

Observe the Weight Limits Carefully

While the majority of injuries occur due to slipping or jumping off from the top bunk, some injuries occur due to bed malfunction. 

The top bunk generally has a weight limit that’s far less than the bottom bunk. For best practice, please ensure only a single child is on the top bunk at any given moment. In addition, children under the age of six shouldn’t be on the top bunk either. The majority of slips, falls, and other injuries occur in children under six.

Retighten the Bunk Bed Routinely

Kids have a tendency of jumping and playing around on their beds. In an ideal world, we parents would be able to tell them simply to not jump and play on their beds and that would be the end of our worries. However, kids will be kids regardless.

In order to prevent bunk beds from malfunctioning, please check the tightness of screws, nuts, bolts, and any other adjoining pieces throughout the build at least once a month. Retighten any pieces that start to become loose to ensure that the bunk bed’s build remains safe.

Talk to Your Kids and Implement Safety Rules

Explaining and establishing safety rules with your children can help prevent injuries when you’re not directly supervising their every action. A lot of injuries simply occur from children jumping on (or off!) their bunk bed.

Some children simply need to hear the how and why in order to implement these rules. Others will need to figure things out themselves the hard way.

In any case, establishing these rules with your children can help prevent at least some injuries from occuring in the long run.

Ensure the Ladder is Always Well-Lit

Children sometimes get up in the middle of the night to use the bathroom, grab a drink or snack, or any other reason. Realistically, your child is going to crawl down from the top bunk in the middle of the night frequently.

Adding a nightlight or other small lamp to your children’s room can prevent a lot of slips and falls in the dark from happening. If you can ensure that your children can see their ladder adequately, then that may be all it takes to stop an accidental fall from happening.

 

Final Thoughts to Ensure a Safe Bunk Bed Experience

If you’re purchasing a used bunk bed from a friend or family member, please ensure you do your due diligence in reading over the original manufacturer guidelines. Older bunk beds from before the Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act of 2008 may include flawed features that increase the risk of injury, especially for children under the age of six.

Teach your children to not jump on or off their bunk bed. Ensure the stability of the bunk bed build at least once a month. Look for a bunk bed that doesn’t have pieces your children can be trapped or ensnared by, and you’ll likely have no issues.

I hope that reading this article has assisted you in deciding if bunk beds are safe enough for your children, and what you can do to prevent them from common related injuries.

Thanks for reading, parents and young adults!