Nearly 36,000 children and adolescents (up to 21 years of age) are treated for bunk bed-related injuries across the nation each year, according to a recent study conducted by The Research Institute at Nationwide Children Hospital.
The study, published in the June issue of Pediatrics, found that bunk bed-related injuries most commonly occur from falls. Thirty percent of those injured by falls suffered serious cuts, twenty-five percent reported abrasions, twenty percent suffered fractures and ten percent sustained concussions. Injury was more common among males and the head, neck, and face were the most frequently injured body regions.
More surprising, however, is the finding that bunk bed-related injures are not exclusive to young children. College-aged individuals (18-21 years) experienced twice as many injuries as adolescents aged 14 to 17. While the reason for this is unknown, the authors speculated that it may be a result of increased residence in institutional settings such as college dormitories or the military.
One thing is clear, however: "[t]he high rates of injury found in [the] study suggest the need for increased prevention efforts to lower the risk of bunk bed-related injury especially among young children and young adults," says study co-author Gary A. Smith.
So what can be done? A recent article from MSNBC offered these guidelines from the Consumer Product Safety Commission and the American Society for Testing and Materials:
- "Do not let children younger than six years old sleep in the top bunk
- Make sure there are guardrails on both sides of the upper bunk, even if one side is against the wall
- Make sure that gaps in the guardrails are no bigger than 3.5 inches to prevent entrapment and strangulation
- Use the proper size of mattress in the bunk bed
- Do not place the bunk too close to ceiling fans or furniture such as dressers
- Make sure bunk beds and ladders are sturdy and secure
- Do not let children play on the bunk beds
- Make sure bunk bedposts do not have knobs or finials that can catch clothing and other objects
- Use night lights to help children find ladders in the dark."
Previously on the DC Metro Area Personal Injury Law Blog, we posted a related article:
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