《Risk No Kid – Up Your Knowledge on Hydraulic Beds and Folding Tables》

6 October 2020

Children are always curious and like to explore. So, they might easily become victims of household traps.  There were fatalities in the past involving hydraulic beds and folding tables.  These furniture items are good for storage or can save space, and have made their way into many households. Consumers are advised to pay attention to the followings to prevent accidents from happening. 
 
Basic knowledge about hydraulic beds
Hydraulic beds are made with 2 to 3 sets of gas springs (similar to those used in hydraulic office chairs and tailgate lift supports) and metal lifting frames which are installed under the bed boards. With the aid of the pressure tube and piston rod, you can lift the bed board and mattress with ease and access the storage space underneath.
 
How to make your selection?
  • The material must be sturdy: Check if the material, gas springs and wood boards are solid enough, and that the metal lifting frames are firmly secured.
  • The gas springs should provide sufficient support: Since the mattress, bed board and bed frames are to be lifted in one go, the gas springs (hydraulic arms) must be strong enough and provide sufficient support. Consumers should check for information regarding the manufacturer, brand and load capacity (such as 1000N (~ 100 kg), 250lbs or 60kg) with respect to the gas springs when making purchase. Some mattresses are extremely heavy, and therefore will need stronger gas springs for lifting / supporting actions. On the contrary, if the mattress and the bed board are relatively light, you may find it difficult to “close” the bed if you use a heavy-duty hydraulic system. 
  • The gas springs must be securely installed:  Ensure that the gas springs (which are attached to the metal lifting frames) are symmetrically and securely installed and without any obstruction, and that all screws are tightly fastened. Otherwise, the safety, ease of operation and durability of the hydraulic system and the bed might be compromised.
  • Safety support: If the model is not fitted with self-locking gas springs, then additional support device should be installed.
gas spring
Pay attention to the following areas when operating a hydraulic bed:
  • Remove items on the bed: Before operating a hydraulic bed, remove all heavy or loose items on the bed.
  • Do not operate alone: Make sure someone is with you and can assist if things go wrong.
  • Keep an eye on children, elderly and pets: Children and elderly are not strong enough to operate hydraulic beds, and accidents could easily happen. Pets may jump around and cause accidents too.
  • Ensure that it is locked into the position: After lifting the bed, ensure that the gas springs are locked to prevent sliding and potential collapse. If the bed does not have additional support device, consumers can put furniture or household items (such as suitcases or chairs) on each side and the middle for support. In the event of an accident, these items could provide a good cushion.
  • Maintain a proper posture: When you lift / close the hydraulic bed, ensure you do it in a proper posture to avoid injury.
          - Lifting: Stand with your feet apart, bend your knees and make sure your back is straight.  Hold the bed frames firmly and lift the bed.
          - Closing: Don't just use your wrists. Use also your arms and body weight to press down the mattress.
 
Maintain a proper posture

Folding tables – potential household hazards
There were a number of fatalities in Hong Kong involving children and folding tables. Most of these cases happened when a folding table was turned upside down, and a young child sat on the horizontal bar of the table causing the legs to close / collapse and the child got trapped and subsequently died from strangulation. Once trapped by the table legs, it is almost impossible for a child to escape, as the legs will get tighter when the child struggles harder.

Folding tables – potential household hazards

How to avoid the accident

According to the Consumer Goods Safety Ordinance, all folding tables are required to comply with the general safety requirements, for instance safety locking devices are in place to ensure that the legs will not fold up if the table is accidentally turned over. Notwithstanding the legal requirements, consumers should still pay attention to the following matters before purchasing / using folding tables.
  • Safety lock (a metal cross bolt with built-in spring): Consumers should not buy a folding table without a safety locking device. Choose a table that is sturdy – e.g., all screws on the legs should be securely fastened, and there should not be any loose part. After opening up the table, remember to put the safety lock in place so that the table will not close / collapse accidentally.
Safety lock
  • Put it in a safe place: If you have toddlers at home who are learning to crawl or walk, they often like to climb over furniture or lean against them for balance. So, it is best to put the folded (closed) table against the wall so that it will not fall (and turn over) easily, causing harm to children.
  • Teach your child: Teach children about the dangers of folding tables and how to use them properly. They need to learn why not to turn over the table and crawl or hide between the table legs, and why not to climb over a table or exert excessive pressure on one end causing the table to turn over, etc. 
  • Keep an eye on your child: Even if it's just a few minutes, accidents could happen. So, make sure that the children are always being supervised by adults!
 
For further information, please refer to the articles “Hydraulic Beds Are Potential Death Traps at Home.” CHOICE Magazine, Issue 404 (Chinese version only), and “Two-Year-Old Boy Being Killed. Safety of Folding Tables Arouses Concerns Again.” CHOICE Magazine, Issue 420 (Chinese version only).  Consumers could get more information about hydraulic beds and folding tables, including how to order custom-made hydraulic beds.