Kids and Bunk Beds: What Are the Risks?
It’s no secret that children love bunk beds.
Not only are bunk beds great space savers, but they also offer an element of privacy when siblings must share a room. What could be better for a kid than the ability to climb into their own “private” space where others aren’t allowed?
But did you know that roughly 36,000 children suffer bunk bed-related injuries every year? While falls from a bunk bed are a common cause of childhood injuries, kids have also been hurt when defective bunk beds collapsed and fell onto the lower bunk or when they somehow became entrapped by the bunk bed.
Our Child Injury Lawyers have extensive experience representing victims of preventable accidents and defective products, earning national recognition for their aggressive pursuit of justice on behalf of injured children and their families. If your son or daughter was hurt while using a bunkbed, please call our law firm toll free at 877-875-2927 to speak with an attorney and learn more about your legal rights.
What to Know About Bunk Beds
A bunk bed is a type of bed in which one bed frame is stacked on top of another, allowing two or more beds to occupy the floor space usually reserved for a single bed. A ladder is used to get to the upper bed.
The most common type of bunk bed is the standard bunk bed, consisting of two mattresses of the same size stacked one directly over the other. A standard over full consists of a full-size mattress on the bottom and a twin mattress on the top.
A full-Over full-bunk bed is also known as the wider bed and features a full-size mattress on both the top and bottom, providing enough space for four people. A futon bunk is similar to a standard bunk. But rather than a standard mattress, the bottom bunk is a Western-style futon couch that converts into a bunk.
The bottom of an L-shaped bunk bed is oriented at a right angle to the top bunk. This configuration also creates a small alcove for a desk or bookshelf. A loft bed has only the top bunk, creating an open space underneath that can be occupied by a chest, drawers, or even a work area. A triple loft bed features a combination of three bed types, including a loft bed that’s perpendicularly attached to a bunk bed to form an L-shape.
While bunk beds are popular space savers for children’s rooms, they’re also frequently found at sleep away camps, hostels, University or college dorms, vacation rentals and resorts, and even cruise ships.
Bunk Bed Dangers and Injuries
Most bunk bed-related injuries result from falls that occur while a child is sleeping or playing, especially from the top bunk. Since the top bunk is so far off the ground, these falls usually cause more severe injuries than falls from the bottom bunk or a standard bed.
Other less apparent hazards associated with bunk beds include structures that pose entrapment hazards, which can cause a child to suffocate or result in their death by strangulation. According to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission, 57 kids were killed after being trapped by bunk beds from 1990 to 2002.
Bunk beds have also been known to collapse on kids, usually because of shoddy construction or defective components.
Cuts are the most common bunk bed injury, followed by bumps, bruises, and broken bones. The head and neck are the most frequently injured body parts. Children under the age of six suffer the majority of bunk bed injuries and are at the highest risk for death resulting from head entrapment and collapsing mattresses.
According to Consumer Reports, more than 90% of bunk-bed related injuries occur at home, mostly among children and teens.
Bunk Beds and Head Injuries
Children who fall from a bunk bed or who are struck by a collapsing bunk are at particular risk for head injuries. These injuries can range from mild bumps and bruises to concussions, brain bleeds, and other form of traumatic brain injury (TBI). If not treated in a timely manner, a serious head injury can result in unconsciousness, coma, and even wrongful death.
If you’re child falls from their bunk bed, be sure to check for bumps and bruises on their head and an enlarged abdomen. Red flags for a serious head injury include:
- Hard to wake up or keep awake
- Violent vomiting
- Slurred speech
- Weakness of arms or legs
- Inability to walk normally
These symptoms are an emergency. Call 911 if your son or daughter experiences any.
Mandatory Standards for Bunk Beds
In 2000, the U.S. Consumer Products Safety Commission set mandatory requirements for all bunk beds manufactured in the United States to prevent kids from becoming trapped in the bed or between the bed and the wall. As a result, any bunk beds manufactured since 2000 must adhere to the following standards:
- Have an affixed label listing the bed’s manufacturer, model, and mattress size information.
- Have a warning label that advises against placing kids under 6 years of age in the upper bunk.
- Have a continuous guardrail on the wall side of the bed if the bunk bed is more than 30 inches tall.
- Openings on the upper and the lower bunks must be small enough that a child’s head, torso, or limb cannot pass through them.
However, it is still possible to find older model bunk beds for resale online or at second-hand stores that don’t comply with these standards.
Bunk Bed Recalls
Despite these mandatory standards, bunk bed recalls are still surprisingly common.
Zinus Metal Bunk Bed Recall
In November 2020, for example, Zinus Inc. recalled about 26,000 metal bunk beds because the metal welds could come apart and cause the bunk bed to collapse. Zinus has received 13 reports of the bunk bed welds coming apart, including three reports of multiple welds simultaneously failing. Three of these incidents resulted in bumps and bruises.
The recalled Zinus bunk beds were sold online at www.amazon.com, www.walmart.com, www.wayfair.com, www.overstock.com, www.homedepot.com, and www.zinus.com from December 2016 through January 2020 for between $90 and $240.
Consumers should immediately stop using the recalled upper bunk and contact the firm for instructions on receiving a free repair kit with reinforcement brackets or a full refund. Zinus is also contacting all purchasers directly.
Walker Edison Twin Cottage Bunk Bed Recall
In September 2019, Walker Edison recalled around 1,200 Twin Cottage Bunk Beds because the support boards might break, posing fall and injury hazards. The company was aware of two such incidents, but no injuries were reported.
These recalled bunk beds were sold at overstock.com, Pier1.com, Target.com, WalkerEdison.com, Walmart.com, Wayfair.com, and other online retailers from July 2018 through April 2019 for about $650. They were available in blue (BWTOTCOTBU), brown (BWTOTCOTES), red (BWTOTCOTRD), and white (BWTOTCOTWH), and in a twin over twin combination. All models had a ladder down the side. Walker Edison Furniture, Made in Brazil, and the model number were printed on a label on the inside of the bed rail or footboard.
Consumers were advised to immediately stop using the bunk beds and contact Walker Edison Furniture to arrange for free replacement bunk beds and free installation by Walker Edison Furniture. The firm also contacted purchasers directly.
Hillsdale Furniture Chadwick Bunk Bed Recall
In June 2016, Hillsdale Furniture recalled roughly 20,000 Chadwick bunk beds because the side mattress support rails could crack or break, posing a fall hazard.
The company received about 650 reports of bed support rails cracking or breaking, including several incidents that resulted in the collapse of the upper or bottom bunk bed. Some consumers also fell from the bunk bed. Reports include eight injuries to children and adults that resulted in bruising, lacerations requiring stitches, and one upper arm fracture.
The wooden bunk beds were available in white (model 1030), mission oak (models 1245 and 1589), and a twin over full combination. All models could be purchased with either a storage drawer, a trundle, or nothing under the lower bunk. They were sold at Bob’s Discount Furniture stores nationwide and online at www.MyBobs.com from August 2010 through July 2014 for about $400.
Big Lots Metal Futon Bunk Bed Recall
In June 2011, the entrapment death of a child prompted Big Lots to recall around 30,000 metal futon bunk beds. The tragic accidental death involved the child becoming trapped at the head and neck as the futon and its metal frame were lowered from the seated to the flat position. The weight of the futon’s metal frame prevented the child from breathing and escaping and he died due to compression asphyxiation.
The space between the last rung on the bunk bed’s ladder and the futon mattress was also too small, which could allow a child’s body to pass through, but not the head, posing a head and neck entrapment hazard.
The recall involved metal futon bunk beds with model number BFB1008 located on a label on the upper bunk support rail. The beds were sold exclusively by Big Lots stores nationwide from January 2009 through April 2010 for about $200.
PBTeen Sleep and Study Loft Bed Recall
In October 2010, PBTeen recalled roughly 5,900 Sleep and Study Loft Beds because the side rail on the bed could crack and cause mattress supports to collapse, posing a fall and injury hazard to users. The company received seven reports of the bed rail cracking or splitting. In one reported incident, a child sustained laceration to his head when the side rail split as he climbed down the ladder.
The recalled loft beds were elevated, had a desk and bookcase underneath, and came in honey, black, espresso, and white. They were sold at PBTeen stores in Georgia, New York, and Illinois, and online at www.pbteen.com for about $1,800, and delivered to consumers from January 2008 through July 2010.
Tips for Avoiding Bunk Bed Injuries
If you’re thinking about purchasing a bunk bed for your kids, keep these safety guidelines in mind:
- Make sure the top bunk is equipped with guardrails. The single opening for entering and exiting should be no more than 15 inches wide.
- Ensure the rails are sturdy and extend at least 5 inches above the top surface of the mattress.
- Check that the mattress foundation is strong and that the right mattress size is used.
- Be wary of Do-It-Yourself bunk bed kits, as these designs may not meet current safety guidelines. Older bunk beds purchased on eBay, Craigslist, facebook marketplace, or second-hand stores also might not comply with these standards.
- Go to recalls.govand search for the bunk bed you’re considering to see if it’s been recalled. Sign up to receive alerts about future recalls.
When deciding where to place a bunk bed, remember:
- Never position a bunk bed under or near a ceiling fan or ceiling light fixture.
- Do not place the bunk bed against a window.
- Ensure that there is room for your son or daughter to sit up without bumping their head on the ceiling.
- Consider using a night light so that children will be able to see the ladder if they get up during the night.
Kids can sustain bunk bed-related injuries from falls, jumps, bunk bed ladders, bed malfunctions, and striking the bed. To avoid injuries, make sure your children understand and follow all bunk bed safety rules:
- Only one person should be allowed on the top bunk at a time, and there should be absolutely no horseplay on or under beds.
- Kids and toddlers under the age of 6 should not be left unattended in a room with bunk beds or be allowed to use them.
- Never hang any items such as belts or jump ropes to any part of the bunk bed, as these can pose a strangulation risk.
- Always use a sturdy ladder to enter and leave the top bunk. Never play on the ladder and keep it free of toys, clothes, and other clutter.
- Keep the area around the bed free of dangerous objects.
Be sure to reinforce bunk bed safety rules regularly, and go over the rules whenever your son or daughter has a friend sleepover, even if they’ve spent the night at your home in the past.
Contact a Top Child Injury Lawyer
A bunk bed that’s poorly designed or defectively manufactured can still cause severe and potentially deadly injuries, even when parents and caregivers have taken all possible precautions.
As a top child injury attorney, Jeffrey Killino has the resources and knowledge to help injured victims and their families receive the compensation they deserve. If your son or daughter suffered a bunk bed-related injury, please do not hesitate to contact us at 1-877-875- 2927.