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Bunk Beds Pose Risk To Kids And Young Adults

Posted by Jane Akre
Monday, June 02, 2008 11:07 PM EST
Category: On The Road, Major Medical, Protecting Your Family
Tags: Head Injuries, Bunk Beds, Defective Products, Consumer Product Safety Commission

Bunk beds are responsible for 35,000 emergency room visits a year.



IMAGE SOURCE: Wikimedia Commons/ bunk beds/ author: Miguel Andrade


Thousands of children who are tucked sweetly into their bunk beds for a good night’s slumber, end up with a bump on the head or worse, according to a new study.

During the 16-year study period, there were an estimated 572,580 bunk bed-related injuries in which researchers studied emergency room admissions and found that on average, more than 36,000 children and adults suffered a bunk bed-related injury each year.

The study is published in the June issue of Pediatrics and is based on data gathered from the Consumer Product Safety Commissions (CPSC) from 1990 to 2005.  The investigation was conducted by the Center for Injury Research and Policy at Nationwide Children’s Hospital in Columbus, Ohio.

The study found that while most of the children who suffered bunk bed-related injuries were younger than 6 years of age, there is a surprising increase in injuries among individuals between the ages of 18 and 21 years of age, who might be using a bunk bed away from home at school or in the military. Alcohol was often a factor in those injuries. 

Many bunk bed accidents involve the bunk bed ladder. The study confirmed something most parents likely know already and warn their children about daily, “Jumping off the bunk bed is a bad idea.”

The body regions most frequently injured include the head/neck and face. The most common injuries suffered were lacerations, followed by bruises/scrapes and fractures.

While fractures were the third most common injury, patients with a fracture were almost six times more likely to require hospital admission or to be held for admission. Boys were more likely to be injured (61%) than girls.

To reduce risk of injury, researchers suggest making sure double guardrails are used on all sides with a 3.5 inch gap between them.   A mattress height should not exceed the height of the bed rails. 

Children under the age of 6 should not sleep in the upper bunk; discourage children from playing on the beds.

Earlier this year the CPSC reported that young children had died when the bunk bed collapsed on them. Another fatal hazard was a youngster whose head was entrapped under the guard rails. This report found that deaths are very rare, perhaps a half dozen during the study years.

Improvements to the space requirements between bunk bed guard rails or between the rails and mattresses, helped improve safety and lower the death rates in the 1990s.

It might seem obvious, but a ceiling fan should be nowhere in the vicinity of a bunk bed.

A night light should be used to help children see the ladder at in the dark. Most importantly, bunk beds should not be changed out or retrofitted in a way that might alter their safety. #

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