Are Bunk Beds Safe?

Bunk beds are a staple sleeping solution for children who share a room, but with reports of bunk bed related injuries, you may question if your children are safe where they sleep.

By Loren Bullock

Jun 1st, 2023

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If you ever shared a room with a sibling, chances are that you had a bunk bed. Bunk beds are great ways to save space in a shared bedroom and, being a single piece of furniture, are a great way to save money on bed frames and foundations. However, common reports of bunk bed related injuries begs the question: Are bunk beds safe?

Common Bunk Bed Injuries

According to Nationwide Children’s Hospital, there are 36,000 bunk bed related injuries reported on average in the United States alone. Majority of these injuries occur from falling off of the top bunk and only result in minor injuries such as cuts, scrapes, and bruises. However, more serious injuries that had to be treated in emergency departments, such as broken bones, have also occurred. Most of these injuries result from a fall during sleep or play, but in some cases of strangulation or suffocation, the bed collapses or the child was caught on something hanging from the bed.

7 Bunk Bed Safety Tips

Bunk beds do pose many safety threats, but they can be safe—the best cure is prevention. Here are some common bunk bed dangers, and how to avoid them altogether.

Bunk Bed Danger Solution Explanation
Falling off the top in their sleep. Use a guardrail. Guardrails should be used on all sides of the top bunk to stop the child from falling onto the floor or getting trapped between the bunk bed and the wall.
Falling off while playing. Establish safety rules. It is important that the children know the danger of the bunk beds as well. See that only one person occupies the upper bunk at a time. Creating bunk bed safety guidelines is a good way to make sure that roughhousing is kept to the absolute minimum.
Inexperience climbing the ladder. Have an age limit. Children younger than 6 years of age should not be allowed on the top bunk. This decreases the risk of injury dramatically. Teach the children older than 6 to climb the ladder properly, and practice with them.
Difficulty finding the ladder at night. Use a night light. Putting a night light in your child’s room assures that they can maneuver around at night. If they need to use the bathroom or get a drink, they won’t fall off attempting to locate the ladder.
Bunk bed collapse. Make sure the bunk bed is assembled properly. A bunk bed collapse can be the scariest thought, but with proper assembly, this is a nonissue. See below for the best way to construct your child’s bunk bed.
Head injury. Place in the corner of the room. Putting bunk beds in the corner of the room will assure that the child who sleeps in the upper bunk won’t worry about bumping into ceiling fans that are turned on.
Suffocation or strangulation. Don’t hang items on the bed. Hanging items like ties or jump ropes off of the side of the bed could mean disaster for your child if they get caught. Keep those items in the closet or garage—leave the bunk bed clear.

Bunk Bed Buying and Construction Tips

The bunk bed you choose and how it’s assembled is a key factor in its safety. Here are some things to keep in mind during bunk bed construction:

  • The space between guardrail should be no more than 3.5 inches, and the opening space should not exceed 15 inches.
  • Make sure the ladder is secure, and pad it for traction.
  • Check to see that the mattress for kids is the right size for the frame: not too big and not too small. (Read more in our best bunk bed mattresses guide.)
  • Select a bunk bed with no corner post. Children could catch their clothing or blankets on them, and it would cause strangulation.
  • Make sure it has a strong foundation.
  • Check the weight limit.
  • Make sure your bunk bed selection complies with the United States Consumer Product Safety Commission’s safety standards.

For bunk bed buying tips, visit our guide.