In July 2013 an eight-month-old baby sleeping in the bottom bunk of a set of bunk beds became wedged between the mattress and the ladder of the bunk bed. Her parents had placed a bed brace to ensure that the baby could not fall out of the bottom bunk, but she managed to wriggle between the bars of the ladder leading to the top bunk and the mattress. The following morning she was found suspended from the bed by her neck. The baby was rushed to hospital by ambulance but was pronounced dead despite attempts to revive her.
Why can bunk beds pose a problem?
• Estimates using EU Injury Database (IDB) data indicate that annually in the EU 28 Member States approximately 19,000 injuries to children 0-14 years of age involving bunk beds are serious enough to require a visit to the emergency department.
• In Canada between 1990 and 2007, 5,403 cases of injuries associated with bunk beds were identified. Children who sustained injuries involving a top bunk were almost twice as likely to be admitted to the hospital.17
• Many bunk bed related injuries are minor and occur when children fall from the beds. Play wrestling frequently contributes to these incidents. However, there are other less obvious yet potentially very serious risks associated with bunk bed structures that have entrapped children and resulted in suffocation or strangulation deaths. How can bunk beds be dangerous?
• The leading causes of bunk bed injuries are falls from the top bed while sleeping or playing and falls off the ladder while climbing,18 Slipping from the ladder can result in severe falls or even death due to strangulation, especially for smaller children. Children have died from strangulation when entrapped in the guardrail and from collapse of the mattress foundation. Guardrails that are attached to the bed by hooks and remain in place only by their own weight can dislodge, allowing a child to become entrapped under the guardrail or fall.
• Deaths have also occurred when very young children rolled off the bed and became entrapped between the wall and the side of the bed not having a guardrail. This hazard is not unique to bunk beds. Regular beds can present the same hazard. Bunk beds are also a collapse hazard. Suffocation deaths have occurred when mattress foundations fell on children playing on the floor or occupying the lower bunk. • Children have also been hung when playing with ropes on the upper bunk.
What to look for when buying or prior to using:
• Check that the bunk bed conforms to the European Standard EN 747-1:2012.
• Guardrails: Make sure guardrails are on both sides of the top bunk. Bunk beds are usually used with one side against a wall and are often sold with only one guardrail.
• Mattress foundation: The mattress foundation on some bunk beds merely rests on small ledges attached to the bed frame. They can dislodge, particularly if a child underneath the bunk, pushes or kicks upwards on the mattress. Check that the mattress foundation is secured through a series of slats, cross ties or lattices.
• Correct mattress size: Make sure there is no opening between the mattress and headboard or footboard.Strangulation deaths have occurred when children fell through openings created between the mattress and headboard or footboard when a regular length mattress was used in an extra long bed frame.
Choose bunk beds that have:
• Guardrails on all sides that are screwed, bolted or otherwise firmly attached to the bed structure to prevent falls.
• Spacing between bed frame and bottom of guardrails that is no greater than 7.5 cm and distance between rails that is no greater than 7 cm.
• Guardrails that extend to a minimum of 16 cm above the mattress surface to prevent a child from rolling off.
• Cross ties under the mattress foundation that can be securely attached.
• A ladder that is secured to the ‘long’ side of the bed frame and will not slip when a child climbs on it.
• A feature that permits the beds to be separated to form two single beds if children are too young to sleep safely on the upper bunk.
Product Recall Case Study:
Alert number: A12/0005/18
Product: Bunk bed
Name: Fire Truck bunk bed
Batch number / Barcode: Unknown
Risk level: Serious
Type / number of model: 1050
Risk type: Injuries,
The safety barrier is not sufficiently high and the distance between the top steps of the ladder and the side of the bed is too large.
A child could consequently fall from the upper bed or introduce the head in the opening and get stuck, leading to injuries or strangulation.
The product does not comply with the relevant European standards EN 747.
Measures ordered by public authorities (to: Distributor): Recall of the product from end users
Description: Bunk bed build as a fire truck with ladder in the back of the bed.
Country of origin: Poland
Alert submitted by: Denmark