Bunk and loft bed safety

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It's tempting, but bunk and loft beds shouldn't be used as trampolines or jungle gyms
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Bunk and loft bed safety requires proper installation for these space savers

Bunk beds are as American as apple pie. Loft beds are equally popular, particularly in college dorm rooms or studio apartments where space is at a premium. Both of these beds are ideal if installed and used safely. If not, accidents can result.

There are nearly 40,000 bunk bed related injuries each year and between 1990 and 2005 there were more than 550,000 injuries of this nature to children and adults alike. Bunk and loft bed safety is a serious matter.

If you plan to install bunk beds or a loft bed it is imperative that you follow the instructions. Bunk beds purchased from high quality retail store or online retailer will come with comprehensive installation instructions, high quality hardware and sturdy wooden or metal parts. If the beds are being used by young, rambunctious children, set down the law and tell them what is permissible and what is not.

The majority of bunk bed related injuries occur when the product is used for something other than its intended purpose, which is sleeping. Explain to children that the bunk beds are not a trampoline. Children should not jump on them or off of the bed or the ladder. Many of the injuries that result from bunk and loft beds are related to the ladder that is used to climb to the top bunk.

First and foremost, pay particular attention to the bunk bed or loft bed specifications. Use the correct size mattress, which should eliminate falls or entrapment. The mattress surface should be five inches below the upper edge of the guardrails. A mattress that is too high will defeat the effectiveness of the guardrails, and create a falling hazard.

There should be two upper guardrails on the top bunk, with a minimum of one rail on each side. The guardrail on the side of the bed that is away from the wall does not have to run continuously from the head of the bed to the foot but the distance between either end of the guardrail and the end of the bed nearest to the guardrail should not be greater than 15 inches. Guardrails should be attached with fasteners which must be released before the rails can be removed. Some rails are designed so that you have to move the rail in two or more different directions in succession before the rail can be removed.

The guardrail that is situated on the wall side of the bed, or the side opposite the ladder, must run continuous from one end of the bed to the other end. If the rail does not attach to the end of the bed, the acceptable space between the end of the guardrail and the nearest end of the bunk bed can be no bigger than 0.22 inches. A lower bunk bed that is 30 inches or less from the floor does not require a rail. The top guardrail must be at least five inches above the top of the mattress.

The top end of the upper bunk at each end must be at least five inches above the top of the mattress for a minimum of half the distance between the posts on each side of the end. This prevents neck entrapment. You can do wedge testing on your bunk bed and mattresses to ensure the safety of your children. The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission has detailed requirements for bunk beds. Review bunk and loft bed safety guidelines before purchasing.

Routinely examine the guardrail, as well as the ladder, to ensure that both are free of damage, all connections are secure and they are properly positions. Use the ladder that comes with the bed. Do not substitute the ladder or any other parts.

Loft beds and bunk beds, maximize the space in your room. A loft bed is elevated on a platform leaving space underneath for storage, studying or playing. A loft bed is generally higher from the floor than a commercial bunk bed, especially if it is custom-fit to a room with a ceiling height over 9 feet. If your child is under the age of six, it is probably not a good idea to put him in a loft bed because he may fall out and hurt himself.

Like bunk beds, many of the injuries associated with loft beds occur because the ladder is not utilized properly. Anyone, especially a child, using a loft bed should know how to ascend and descend using the ladder.

If you are installing a loft in your college dorm, do not use pre-treated lumber because it contains arsenic. Colleges generally recommend that the corner posts on loft beds are constructed out of 4X4 lumber, although it may difficult to find this size lumber, untreated, for indoor use. Lofts are an excellent option for creating a comfortable, more spacious, dorm room.

Know what the weight capacity is of your loft bed. You do not want it collapsing underneath your weight. The mattress slats in your loft bed need to be secure to prevent entrapping a child.

The headroom above and underneath your loft bed is determined by the height of your ceiling and mattress thickness. It is recommended that you leave 52 inches beneath the loft so you can comfortably sit underneath your loft bed. You will also need a minimum of 30 inches space between the ceiling and the mattress so you can sit up in your loft bed. Comfort is as important as bunk and loft bed safety.

Interesting interior design options can be created by using space-saving bunk and loft beds. Whether the beds are custom made or purchased at a retail store, be aware of safety guidelines and use common sense.


CPSC.gov: Bunk bed regulations

Sawyers Specialties: are loft beds safe?

Collegebedlofts.com: safety features

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