A Murphy bed is basically a fold up bed.
Most Murphy beds are attached to the wall and will fold up either vertically or ‘horizontally’ with the intention of helping you save space in your room.
However, other types of Murphy beds are not attached to the wall and instead operate as freestanding units that can fold up to resemble fine looking cabinets when not in use.
Despite being designed by William Murphy back in the early 1900’s, modern Murphy beds have become popular again due to the downsizing movement – with many folks looking to maximise the living space in their apartments, studios, basements, guest rooms, and even mobile homes.
As such, modern Murphy beds can come with all sorts of extra space-saving features such as built in sofas, desks, drawers, shelves, and extra bunks to help you make the most out of your room.
But are Murphy beds safe?
Because if you’ve ever watched any of the old style comedy films where these types of folding wall beds close up and trap people inside – you might well be wondering if there’s any truth to this.
Here’s what I found out.
Are Murphy Beds Safe?
Mostly – yes.
As a general rule, modern Murphy beds come with features that make them pretty safe when used correctly.
For example, the mechanisms that hinge the bed to the wall or standing fixture are constructed in a way so that they won’t fold up on their own, and the bed will descend slowly when being pulled away from the wall for use.
Most beds come with added safety features such as catches that will hold the bed upright when stored away, along with straps or ties to keep the mattress in place, and locking legs to provide extra support.
Can Murphy Beds Be Dangerous?
They can be.
Because whilst the odds of actually being hurt by a Murphy bed that spontaneously folds up or drops down are incredibly slim – accidents have happened.
And whilst these are most certainly isolated incidents, a handful of people have actually been killed by a Murphy bed.
For example, one man apparently died in Los Angeles in 1982 when he passed out drunk on the bed which somehow folded up and caused suffocation.
In another case, two elderly sisters died on holiday in Spain when their folding bed collapsed due to incorrect fitting of the screws and plugs used for the bed’s storage unit.
The final example that I found resulting in a fatality was during the construction of the bed – where the bed snapped shut on the victim.
Will the Bed Fold Up Randomly?
Almost certainly not.
The examples above illustrate issues with incorrect assembly of the bed and introducing drunkenness into the equation.
But as long as the bed has been installed properly, then there should be little worry of the bed folding up on you.
This is because the hydraulics of the bed are such that once in the prone position, the bed won’t just snap back up – especially once the weight of a person is present.
Will the Bed Suddenly Drop Down?
Again, if the bed has been installed correctly – there shouldn’t be much chance of the bed dropping down with great force.
This is because the hinges are typically constructed so that even once the safety latches have been released, the bed will either remain static until it’s pulled – or will only descend very slowly.
5 Murphy Bed Safety Tips
Again, I must stress that the odds of being hurt by a Murphy bed are pretty low.
But if you’re going to buy this type of bed, I would strongly suggest adhering to the following tips to reduce the chance of injury even further.
1: Buy From a Reputable Source
Call me over cautious, but I would stay away from buying a Murphy bed second hand from an independent seller on a site like Craigslist because the bed might be damaged or weak in places.
And I would absolutely avoid anyone selling a homemade or DIY Murphy bed.
Instead, I would look to buy online from reputable manufacturers whose products have passed all of the relevant safety tests.
Or to save time, just check out my list of the best Murphy beds that you can order online now.
2: Have a Professional Install Your Bed
I should imagine that most people who order a Murphy bed will try to install the bed themselves.
And whilst this is a perfectly viable solution if you follow the instructions correctly, use the right tools, and follow the enclosed safety guidelines – I would personally pay for a professional white glove service, so that I can rest assured that the bed is being set up by people who know what they’re doing.
When ordering online, check to see if set up comes as standard or requires an additional fee.
3: Watch Out For Pinch Points
Whilst a Murphy bed is unlikely to close up on you or drop down if the bed has been installed properly – pinch points are something that you need to be aware of.
As you may have already guessed, pinch points are areas where you can get your fingers, clothing, or bedding trapped between the bed and the wall or frame.
Specifically, you’ll want to watch out for the pinch points created by the hinges of the Murphy bed because these are typically designed to lock into place to stop the bed falling down.
You’ll want to be extra careful if you have children – or you are even using a Murphy bed for your kids.
Make sure they are well away from the bed when you are lowering it and folding it away – so they don’t get their hands or fingers caught in the pinch points.
4: Prevent the Bed From Falling
As I said, there’s little chance of the bed just randomly dropping down from a fixed position because the hinges lock the bed into place when upright.
Furthermore, the modern-day hydraulic systems mean that the bed will only descend either very slowly – or not at all – when the bed is unlocked from its upright position.
However, there is a chance that the bed could fall if it’s not attached to the wall or anchoring unit properly.
This could happen if there is excessive strain placed on the wall joints – typical if the bed has not been assembled properly.
When the bed is in the down position, make sure that there is NO gap between the frame and the floor. If there is, then each time that you put weight on the bed – it will cause dangerous shearing forces on the joints that could cause the bed to collapse later on.
Furthermore, you’ll want to ensure that the wall is able to support the actual weight of the bed too. You can use a stud finder to help you find the most sturdy location to secure your bed.
However, this is all cause for having a professional set the bed up properly.
But after this has happened, another thing to avoid is trying to fold the bed up with your sheets and bedding still on it.
Yes, some makes do allow you to do this, but if you over-stuff the space between the bed and the wall – you’ll put extra strain on the hinges and increase the risk of the bed becoming damaged.
5: Get the Right Murphy Bed For You
Ok, so hopefully, you now feel a bit more reassured that a Murphy bed is generally pretty safe – as long as you follow some basic steps to avoid user error.
And the last tip that I have for you is to make sure that you buy the best Murphy bed that’s right for your space requirements.
For example, you might think that buying a Murphy bunk bed is a great idea to save even more floor space (and it is) but will your ceiling be high enough to accommodate the extra bunk – plus room to sit up without hitting your head?
Similarly, whilst having a built in sofa, desk, table, or bookcase might sound like an even better way to leverage your room – will you have enough clearance to account for ‘extendables’ like trundles and drawers?
So to help you quickly find the best Murphy bed for your room – I’ve put together a list of my top picks.
Click the button below to find your perfect bed right now.
Dan is the founder and head content creator at Bedroom Style Reviews.
He has been working as a professional online product reviewer since 2015 and was inspired to start this website when he ended up sleeping on a memory foam mattress that was too soft and gave him backache.
Through in-depth research and analysis, Dan’s goal with this website is to help others avoid such pitfalls by creating the best online resource for helping you find your ideal mattress, bedding, and bedroom furniture.
Dan is a qualified NVQ Level 2 Fitness Instructor with 6 years’ experience helping clients improve their health through diet, exercise, and proper sleep hygiene.
He also holds several college and university-level qualifications in health sciences, psychology, mathematics, art, and digital media creation – which helps him to publish well researched and informative product reviews as well as articles on sleep, health, wellbeing, and home decor.
Dan also has direct personal experience with insomnia, anxiety, misophonia (hypersensitivity to sounds), and pain from both acute and long-standing sporting injuries – he enjoys writing insightful articles around these subjects to help fellow sufferers of such conditions.
Learn more about Dan here.