Bunk Bed Safety

Many families use bunk beds because they are an easy way to save space. However, an average of 36,000 bunk bed-related injuries occur every year to children in the United States. Injuries can happen when kids are playing around the bunk bed or when they are sleeping. Therefore, parents should talk to their kids about how to safely use a bunk bed.

Bunk Bed Injury Facts

  • Most bunk bed-related injuries occur from falls while sleeping or playing.
  • Injuries from bunk beds are usually worse than injuries from standard beds.
  • Cuts are the most common injury, followed by bumps, bruises and broken bones.
  • The head and neck are injured the most.

Who is at Risk?

  • Half of all bunk bed-related injuries occur to children younger than 6.
  • 18 to 21-year-olds suffer double the number of injuries as other teens. This might be because many in this group use bunk beds in college or in the military.
  • Boys are injured more often than girls.

Bunk Bed Safety Tips

  • Use guardrails on both sides of the top bunk. The gaps in the guardrails should be 3.5 inches or smaller to prevent strangulation.
  • Guardrails need to extend at least 5 inches above the mattress top, which includes any added mattress pad(s), to prevent kids from rolling off.
  • Check that the mattress foundation is strong and that the right mattress size is used.
  • Children younger than 6 are too young to sleep in the top bunk.
  • Never let kids play on the bunk or ladder.
  • Remove dangerous objects from around the bed.
  • Keep the top bunk away from ceiling fans.
  • Install a night light near the ladder.
  • Do not use the bunk bed or ladder if any parts are damaged or broken.
  • Teach kids how to carefully climb the ladder.
  • Do not allow children to attach belts, scarves or ropes to the bunk bed. This can lead to strangulation.
  • Be wary of Do-It-Yourself bunk bed kits. The designs may not meet current safety guidelines. 
  • If your child will be sleeping on a bunk bed at school (or at a summer camp), be aware that these bunk beds are not required to meet federal safety standards. If no guardrail is present or it is not at least 5 inches above the top of the mattress, you may be able to request the appropriate size guardrails from the school/camp.
  • Go to www.recalls.gov and search the products you’re considering bringing into your home to see if they have been recalled. While you are there, sign up to receive alerts about future recalls.

Additional Bunkbed Safety Resources

  • Bunk bed-related injuries among children and adolescents treated in emergency departments in the United States, 1990-2005