What to Think About When Buying a Loft Bed
Situated at least 30 inches above the floor, loft beds often spark concerns over the safety and wellbeing of the people who use them. While loft bed injuries happen from time to time, the number of annual reported incidents has declined over the past several years thanks partly to regulations and guidelines that help protect against avoidable dangers. When injuries do occur, however, they tend to affect the head and neck most frequently, which means choosing a safe loft bed is essential.
Issues and Risks
Nearly all reported injuries result from falling while sleeping or roughhousing. Statistically, boys younger than 11 and users between the ages of 18 and 21 face the highest risk of sustaining a loft bed injury. Identifying potential dangers and educating loft bed users ahead of time remains the best way to prevent accidents from happening. Adhere to the following rules and recommendations to successfully lessen the likelihood of an injurious ordeal.
Formal Safety Guidelines
In an effort to reduce the number of injuries and incidents that occur each year, the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) maintains specific guidelines for loft bed manufacturers. The guidelines apply to all loft beds sold in the United States after June 2000, regardless of national origin, and have successfully resulted in a drastic reduction of loft bed-related injuries.
Avoid loft beds that were made before 2001 and lack the official CPSC seal of approval. Unlike the formerly relaxed regulations, the more recently issued guidelines mandate that children younger than six years of age should never sleep in beds raised more than 30 inches from the ground. The newer regulations also call on loft bed manufacturers to use a specialized device called a wedge block, which is designed to mimic the head and neck of the average child and measures potentially dangerous openings in the headboard and footboard of each bed.
Avoiding Preventable Accidents
Falling from the raised area that houses the mattress is the main cause of loft bed injuries. According to CSPC regulations, the guardrails of the bed must rise at least 5 inches above the surface of the mattress, and any resulting gaps should not exceed 3 1/2 inches in size. The same rules apply for headboards and footboards. Installing a nightlight close to the bed to illuminate the ladder can also help prevent falls during the night.
Parents of loft bed users should take the time to educate their children about the major safety issues, such as the proper use of the ladder. The conversation should also include a discussion on the dangers of tying belts or ropes to the railings of loft beds, as this knowledge can prevent situations that put kids at increased risk of accidental air-flow constriction or limb fractures.
Along the same lines, using an overly small mattress increases the likelihood of sleepers becoming trapped between the bed frame and the guardrails, which can lead to breathing complications. To avoid the potential issue, take accurate measurements prior to shopping and make sure the mattress fits correctly before allowing children to sleep in the bed. If necessary, consult an expert to ensure the purchase of a safe loft bed and a corresponding mattress of an appropriate size.
In addition to being aware of the CPSC guidelines and making a suitable mattress selection, loft bed owners and users can prevent severe injuries by removing potential hazards from the room. Make sure to clean the immediate area surrounding the loft bed regularly to avoid exacerbating an injury in the case of a fall. Also, discourage children from playing on the bed, as roughhousing dramatically increases the possibility of an accident.
Placing loft beds away from ceiling fans, dressers, desks, and windows provides further protection from injurious falls. To prevent malfunctions, check the bed for deterioration or other damage on a regular basis, particularly if an adult-sized sleeper serves as the primary user. Loft bed users should also refrain from making any modifications that could unintentionally disable the safety features.