Each year about 4,000 Australian children need medical care because of bunk bed related injuries. About 400 of them require hospital treatment, mostly for broken bones and concussion. Tragically, about one child dies every three or four years. Serious injuries can occur if the bunk bed is poorly made or inappropriately used.
The mandatory standard for bunk beds is based on the Australian Standard AS/NZS 4220:1994. While it is a voluntary standard, mandatory requirements for bunk beds are outlined in Consumer Notice No.1 of 2003. The mandatory requirements came into effect on the 7th of April 2005.
Before you buy, make sure the bunk bed has been tested to and complies with the mandatory requirements.
What to look for
- It's generally not recommended that you use the top bunk for children under nine years of age and definitely not for children under six years of age.
- The bunk bed design shouldn't allow hanging points and there shouldn't be holes or gaps that can trap heads, legs and arms. In particular, there should be no gaps more than 95 mm but less than 230 mm - such gaps could allow a child's body to fall through, but trap the child's head.
- Do not let children use bunk beds as a play area. Many injuries occur when children fall from the top bunk while playing.
- Never place a bunk near a window, and keep the bunk beds at least two metres away from a ceiling fan.
- The bunk bed should have guard rails on both sides and ends, even if one side is against a well.
- Check ladders and guard rails are permanent and stable and regularly check that nuts and bolts are tight.
- Make sure ladders are easy to use even when sleepily getting out of bed in the dark.
- Check regularly for wear and tear; always undertake repairs immediately.