For many families, bunk beds serve both a practical and fun purpose. Many parents buy bunk beds for their kids as a way to save space, and kids often fight over who will get the top bunk. But a recent accident may make parents rethink whether they should allow their kids to sleep in these beds, and a child's tragic death has raised concerns about how safe bunk beds are for kids.
Antoinette Roberts, a mom of five, knows firsthand how dangerous bunk beds can be. Her 2-year-old son, Kindell, died after getting stuck between the frame of the bed and the wall. His 3-year-old sister tried to pull him out. Instead, he lost oxygen. “I was gone for an hour. When I got back, he was dead,” Roberts told Inside Edition.
“Somehow, he had gotten on top of his brother’s [top] bunk bed,” she said. “I believe he was scared, because I never saw him get up there and I never let him get up there. He was trying to get down, and he slipped.”
Kindell was taken to a hospital, and was placed on a ventilator. He died on Sept. 25, five days after the accident occurred. The medical examiner’s office said that Kindell's death appeared to be accidental. Still, Roberts was upset that her relative — whom she left to watch three of her kids — allegedly didn't make sure her children stayed away from the the bunk bed's top bunk, as she always had.
“My son was super-duper smart," she told Inside Edition. "He’s playful. He’s talented. He’s just an amazing kid all around. I feel like I was robbed and I feel like he was robbed of his life, because he wasn’t being watched.”
Bunk beds cause more injuries in children than standard beds do. A study from the Nationwide Children's Hospital Center For Injury Research and Policy recommends that children younger than 6 not sleep on a bunk bed. And most importantly, children should never play on a bunk bed — especially the top bunk.
Other kids have unfortunately been injured and have even died from sleeping in bunk beds. The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission reports that 57 children died after being entrapped by bunk beds from 1990 to 2002, which prompted stricter safety measures for constructing bunk beds.
In 2011, a 4-year-old boy in England died after rolling off the top bunk while he was asleep. The bed was reportedly against a wall, with no protective guard on that side of the bed. His mother found him hanging between the bed and the wall later that night. Coroner David Roberts told The Telegraph:
If there is a wider message to be passed out, it would be to check that bunk beds are properly constructed. Parents should also ensure that barriers are placed on both sides. They can't rely on the wall alone being adequate protection to stop a child slipping down and falling from the bed.
Antoinette Roberts said that by starting a conversation about getting into the habit of looking out for your kids at all times, and not just when they're near bunk beds, she hopes other parents won't encounter a freak accident similar to the one her son Kindell faced.
"I want to push the issue as far as making sure children are safe and being attended to,” she told Inside Edition. “Kids need to be in your eyesight all the time. There should not be one time you let them out of your sight.”