Guide to Bunk Bed Safety

Bunk beds, while convenient and versatile, come with certain safety risks that traditional beds do not. In particular, the raised position of the top bunk creates prime conditions for falling out of the bed and possibly injuring oneself.

While the risk of injury is never something to take lightly, it shouldn’t automatically deter shoppers from considering or purchasing a bunk bed for their growing family. With the proper knowledge and preparation, bunk beds can be a safe, fun, and innovative place for kids to sleep.

Know the Risks

Nearly 75 percent of all bunk bed injuries occur due to falling while sleeping or playing. With a higher center of gravity than adults, children are more likely to fall head-first, potentially resulting in injuries to the skull and upper body.

Other types of injuries could result if kids were to become trapped between the bunk bed or mattress and the wall, or bump against the sharp corners or protruding posts of the bed frame. However, these situations are easily prevented by following some basic guidelines and taking the precautionary measures that safe bunk bed ownership demands.

Preventing Falls

Due to the increased risk of falling out of the bed, children under the age of six should never sleep in the top bunk. Likewise, restless children known to toss and turn should generally stick to the bottom bunk, where the likelihood of experiencing a seriously harmful fall decreases because of the closer proximity to the floor.

Furthermore, safe bunk bed owners need to pay special attention to the thickness of the mattress relative to the height of the guardrails. While placing a bunk bed in a corner of the room will surround the elevated area with walls on at least two sides, the guardrails that come with the bed frame provide the first line of protection and should extend at least five inches higher than the surface of the mattress. The safest bunk beds include guardrails on both sides of the top bunk.

Avoid Trapping

Smaller children in particular run the risk of getting stuck and injured in the gaps between the bunk bed mattress and the wall or guardrails. The best way to avoid the potentially harmful situation is to purchase a mattress that fits the bed frame perfectly. Open spaces left between the side of the mattress and the guardrails or walls should never exceed three and a half inches.

Other Important Precautions

Playing — and, to a lesser extent, sleeping — on a bunk bed can cause kids to get their heads stuck in any holes or openings in the headboard or footboard. Similarly, any cords, scarves, belts, or similar items left hanging from the top bunk represent a choking hazard. Minimize these risks by having a meaningful conversation with the bunk bed users about the potential dangers of misusing the space-saving piece of furniture, and establish a rule about never hanging anything from the guardrails.

Furthermore, when shopping for safe bunk beds, parents should take the time to measure the gaps in the headboards and footboards to make sure the openings are large or small enough to be harmless. Larger gaps should provide enough space for bunk bed users to quickly and easily extricate themselves if necessary, while smaller ones should be too tiny for children to become wedged in the opening in the first place. Ultimately, however, an ideally safe bunk bed would not have any holes in the headboard or footboard to begin with.

Further Safety Tips

Making small adjustments to the bedroom will help to further prevent bunk bed accidents and injuries. Position the bunk bed away from ceiling fans and hanging light fixtures, and place a nightlight or another source of illumination near the ladder to aid children in any late-night trips to the bathroom. Keep the floor space around the bed clean and clear of toys and furniture. Finally, establish a set of rules about playing on bunk beds and clearly communicate the potential dangers to deter any injurious or reckless behavior.

Safe Bunk Bed Options

Furniture.com cares about the safety of children just as much as any worried parent. To protect kids from injury, we add several safety features to our bunk beds. Some of our safest models feature stationary staircases instead of movable ladders. With skid-resistant strips, the steady stairs offer a safer way in and out of the top bunk. We also reinforce the safety and sturdiness of the bed frames with durable, crack-resistant materials such as steel, oak, and pine. Because we don’t think you should ever have to compromise when it comes to the wellbeing of your child.