Debunking the bunk-bed myth

By • Published: November 5th, 2008
Category: Health in a Heartbeat

It’s time to debunk the bunk-bed myth.

Parents of very young children often worry their offspring might spring off the top bunk.

That’s a legitimate concern.

Half of bunk-bed injuries involve children six and under.

Furthermore, small children have high centers of gravity and tend to fall head first, making them forty percent more likely to receive head injuries than older children.

So strictly speaking, children younger than six shouldn’t sleep in the upper bunk.

But don’t forget that older kids and young adults are also prone to injury-causing falls.

Researchers at the Center for Injury Research and Policy at Nationwide Children’s Hospital pored over more than five-hundred-seventy-thousand bunk bed-related injuries.

They were surprised to discover that adults ages eighteen to twenty-one have almost twice as many bunk-bed injuries as adolescents in the fourteen- to seventeen-year-old age group. The reason could because bunk beds are more commonplace in college dormitories and military barracks.

Older bunkers also tend to be heavier, which can make falls more serious.

But no matter the size or age of the sleeper, safety experts recommend guardrails on both sides of the upper bunk, with gaps between the rail and mattress smaller than three-point-five inches.

Install nightlights to help children see the ladder, and make sure there are no hazardous objects around the bed.

Bunk beds can be fun and help make the most of limited bedroom space. But don’t get complacent when bunk users get older.

Remember, the bigger they are, the harder they fall.