The second serious incident involving a bunk bed fall this year has resulted in a 2-year-old boy being airlifted to hospital with serious injuries.

The incident came as New Zealand authorities consider a change in the legal standards for bunk beds.

The toddler, from Turangi, was flown by Taupo's Youthtown Rescue Helicopter to Waikato Hospital to be treated for head injuries after falling from the top bunk late on Wednesday night.

Pilot Hendry De Waal said the boy was in a lot of pain, and needed urgent medical attention because of swelling affecting hiseyes.

"He needed to get out of there quick. A fall from a bunk bed for a child of that size is very serious."

The boy was discharged yesterday afternoon.

Otago University child injury researcher Jean Simpson said it was very common for children under 5 to be injured badly enough that they needed to be admitted to hospital after falls from bedroom furniture.

She added that bunk bed-related incidents happened often enough to make consumer bodies more wary, but were not common enough to encourage urgent intervention from the Government.

There are no mandatory standards for bunk beds, but an Australian review, which New Zealand is involved in, has drafted a requirement that top bunks be restricted to children aged 12 or more.

Accidents involving bunk beds reduce drastically at this age.

The rules could also be made law in New Zealand, which shares official standards with Australia, requiring bunk beds to have higher sides, ladders and warning stickers.

In January, 2-year-old Luca James Gibson died when he fell part-way out of a bunk and suffocated while on a family holiday at Bucklands Beach.

His family wanted more publicity about the risk of bunk beds so that other parents did not have to suffer the same loss.

The Ministry of Economic Development's consumer guidelines say bunk beds are not suitable for children under 6.

Most bunk bed injuries occur when children fall while playing on the top bunk, but there is also the risk that children could get stuck in gaps or get their clothes caught on tall posts.

The ministry recommends beds with fixed rails on all sides of the top bunk, a gap of at least 160mm between the mattress and the top of the rail, and smooth guardrails which will not snag clothing.


* Under-6s should not sleep on the top bunk.
* Buy beds with guardrails, and regularly check they are fixed and firm.
* Make sure the guardrail is much higher than the mattress.
* Top bunks should be used only for sleeping, not playing.
* Place bunk beds away from windows and other furniture.

Source: Ministry of Economic Development guidelines