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Bunk Beds Safety

Bunk Beds Safety

Bunk bed safety is a topic that comes up quite often in the news. Injuries from scrapes, bruises, to fractures, these events occur too often. As parents, as much as we would like to think that we have a handle on our children's safety when it comes to bunk beds, do we really know? What safety measures must be taken? What details should be focused on when assembling or building your own bunk bed? What are the specifications that parents must look at to properly equip a bunk bed to be safe? Believe it or not, these are all questions that many fail to answer correctly. Even though we, as parents, would like to think that we know what is best for our kids, there are dangers that loom even beyond our imagination, and bunk beds is absolutely no exception. So why the serious note? With over 36,000 children and bunk bed related injuries per year, there is really no other way of emphasizing the weight of this issue. Just between 1990 and 2005, there were over 550,000 injuries among children and adults alike. These statistics are not skewed. Take a look for yourself, type in "Bunk Beds" in Google and check out some of the news results that come up. The numbers are truly intimidating. With that said, what are some of the ways to avoid these injuries? What steps should be taken to completely secure your children and ensure safety? To answer these questions, let's take a look at some of the most common injuries that occur.

Common Bunk Bed Related Injuries

There is really no secret to it. Like anything else, injuries occur when the products or items are not used as they are intended. A bunk bed is made for the purpose of providing a bed that saves space. The sole purpose of a bunk bed is to be able to fit two twin or full size beds into one in order to save some much needed space. Thus, bunk beds should be used to sleep in, never to play in. One of the most common and probably one of the easiest to avoid is to simply not let your kids jump around or play around on the bunk bed. This includes everything from jumping on or off bunk beds, wrestling on or around bunk beds, standing on bunk beds, hanging off bunk beds, rolling around bunk beds, jumping off ladders. Basically, anything that you might find to be dangerous on an elevated platform applies to bunk beds. Now, you wouldn't want your kids jumping around or wrestling on a bridge that is suspended 200 feet in the air right? You get the idea. Avoid any kind of horse playing or rough housing on or around bunk beds! It's as simple as that. Now to the more specific. Bunk bed specifications are something that should never be ignored. Measurements from clearance space, rail guard length and height, ladder width, thickness of guardrails, basically anything that may require attention to details, should be paid close attention. A rather unfortunate but common injury occurs when the side guard rail is not properly installed. Children can tumble over or under the guard rail and in even more serious cases; children's heads may become lodged between the side guard rail and the mattress as they may accidentally slide below the guard rail.

Ways to Avoid Injuries

While the common injuries may seem fairly common sense, many parents are not aware of how to avoid these injuries. Remember, anything is possible. To ensure that your bunk bed is absolutely risk-proof, check out these federal bunk bed regulations by Consumer Product Safety Commission.

Guard Rails:

Bunk Beds must have at least two upper bunk guardrails, with at least one rail on each side. Lower bunks with mattress foundations that are 30 inches or less from the floor do not have to have guard rails. The guardrail on the side of the bed next to a wall or on the side opposite to a ladder must run continuously from one end of the bed to the other. If the guardrail does not attach to an end of the bed, the gap between the end of the guardrail and the nearest end of the bunk bed cannot be greater than 0.22 inches.

A guardrail on the side of the bed away from the wall does not have to run continuously from end to end of the bed, but the distance between either end of the guard rail and the end of the bed nearest to it cannot be greater than 15 inches. Guardrails must be attached to the bunk bed with fasteners that you have to release to take the rails off or they must require you to move them in two or more different directions, one after the other, to take them off.

The tops of the guardrails must be no less than 5 inches above the top of the mattress. When you take the mattress off the upper bunk, any space between the bottom of the guardrail and the top of the mattress foundation must not let the wedge block described below pass through freely.

Bunk Beds Ends:

No opening in either end of the upper bunk that is above the mattress foundation can let the wedge block pass through freely.

When you use the thickest mattress and mattress foundation recommended by the manufacturer, the top of each end of the upper bunk must be at least 5 inches above the top of the mattress for at least half of the distance between posts on each side of the end. No opening in either end of the lower bunk below the mattress foundation of the upper bunk and above the mattress foundation of the lower bunk can permit the wedge block to pass through freely, unless the opening also allows a rigid 9 inch sphere to pass through it freely.

Any opening in either end of the lower bunk below the mattress foundation of the upper bunk that is tested with the wedge block must also be tested for the risk of neck entrapment if the opening lets the 9 inch sphere pass through freely.

For more information on Wedge Testing, check out the official CPSC Regulation Guide. Luckily, if you are purchasing a manufactured bunk bed, they most likely have already been tested and made within the regulation standards. But when shopping for bunk beds, always check to see if they have been tested and made following all regulations. If you are planning on building your own bunk bed, this is something you might want to pay very close attention to. There are a number of stores offering bunk bed plans and guides but it is crucial that you follow all instructions. Also, do not just assume that the bunk bed plans are all measured to follow the safety standards. Make adjustments if you have to and make sure that your final bunk bed passes all standard regulations. Also, a quite common concern when building bunk beds is the material. Hardware and woods should be high quality. Any cracked pieces, splintering wood, old and aged wood should never be used as the longevity of such materials is limited. All materials used should be high quality and in great shape. While building your own bunk bed can save you some money, spend that extra buck and source out some quality pieces and hardware for your bunk bed. Believe me, it will be worth it! So, there you have it. A bit overwhelming? Don't worry; it is not as tough as it sounds. There are injuries and risks that are beyond our control, but by strictly following all safety standards and regulations, parents can now reduce the risk of bunk bed related injuries. Remember, these are our kids we are talking about! None of this should ever be overlooked.

Bunk Bed Warnings:

  • Follow the information on the Warnings attached to the upper Bunk End structure and possibly other locations. Please do not remove warning label from Bed.
  • Always use the recommended size mattress for your application to prevent the likelihood of entrapment or falls.
  • Surface of mattress must be at least 5 inches below the upper edge of guardrails.
  • Children under the age of 6 years old should not be permitted to use the top bunk.
  • Periodically check to ensure that the guardrail, the ladder, and other components are in their proper position, free from damage and that all connections are secure.
  • Never allow horseplay on or under the bed. Always prohibit jumping on the bed.
  • Always use the appropriate ladder for entering and leaving the upper bunk.
  • Do not substitute parts, contact the manufacturer or dealer for replacement parts.
  • Use of a nightlight may provide added safety for children using the top bunk.
  • Always use long guardrail on the backside of the upper bunk.
  • The use of water or sleep flotation mattress is not recommended.
  • More than one person is not recommended on top bunk at any time.
  • Keep these instructions for further reference.