When I first walked into my dorm room at Valdosta State University, I was appalled. Not by the lack or bed rails, but by the lack of space. Mandatory furniture shoved into an altogether too small space; not to mention a roommate with all her belongings.
My bed actually came lofted and I ended up keeping it that way. I requested to have it lowered but after no action had taken place on my request, I realized having my bed lofted allowed for more space for my desk and collections and other things, so I just never followed up my request to have my bed lowered.
Almost a year ago on Halloween, I fell out of my 7-ft. high dorm bed while asleep. This caused a subdermal hematoma (brain bleed) that required emergency brain surgery. Thankfully, my roommate insisted I go to the ER and I made it to the hospital where I had life-saving surgery. I was just 19 years old…a freshman in my first semester of college.
This accident has set me back from my peers, as well as changed my appearance forever, and has led to an extremely large amount of debt from hospital bills. All of this could have been avoided by simply having a rail on my bed. At the time my university didn’t even offer rails.
I wish someone had shared with my younger self the dangers and what could really happen when you fall out of a lofted dorm bed. Now when I walk into a dorm room, it isn’t the lack of space that upsets me, but the lack of safety rails on beds.
I always thought the lofted beds at my sorority house seemed very unsafe. They were 6-7 feet lofted in the air with no rails.
Throughout my first semester I was lucky to remain safe while sleeping. Over Christmas break, I requested a bed rail to be installed on my bed, but because new beds were to be installed the following year, I was not given one.
Just a few weeks into spring semester and becoming President of my sorority, I fell out of my bed in the middle of the night and landed in a push-up position. My arm was broken at the wrist, I had a huge bump on my forehead and was in excruciating pain. I immediately ran into the living room and thankfully my roommate was awake. She gathered my things and drove me to the hospital.
After 2 days in the hospital and 7 titanium screws and a plate inserted into my arm during surgery, I left the hospital. I went through 7 weeks of physical therapy to regain strength in my dominant arm that was broken. Thankfully, I have restored all muscle and do not have any permanent damage from my fall.
But with a simple safety rail on my bed, this nightmare wouldn’t have happened.
My brother Brian was a 21 year-old Georgia Tech senior football player staying at a fraternity house on July 26, 1982. Brian was a restless sleeper and early that morning he rolled out of the top bunk bed where he was sleeping.
Brian hit the temple of his head on a corner of a chair during his fall, he never woke up, his roommate found him lying on the floor in the morning…Brian had passed away due to a massive brain bleed.
Students…please use a guardrail. It may sound childish or inconvenient…but it could save your life…it would have saved my brother’s life.
I was the Director of ResLife at Truman State University from 2001-2009. Bed rails were not available for students except upon request when I took over the position in 2001.
After a few students went to the ER that year with broken bones and concussions (luckily, nothing life threatening or seriously altering), I worked with my top Student Affairs administration, our VP for Finance, and our Director of Facilities/Physical Plant to find the large amount of money to get bed rails installed campus wide.
They were installed 100% across the entire residence hall system in 2002, and the number of inuries lessened after that point. Some students still were injured by jumping from their beds instead of using the ladders, or slipped getting up and down (sometimes due to intoxication). However, I do believe that the number of students injured or lives saved over the years is much higher than it would have been had we not taken this initiative on. The rails still remain a part of the required bed furniture today (I have been gone from there for 10 yrs). I am floored more campuses do not have this in place.