Things to Know Before Buying an Inflatable Water Slide
An inflatable waterslide provides an incredibly fun playground for kids to use in the garden. But they can be an expensive purchase. When making such an investment, you’ll want to ensure you’re choosing the right one, with good features and quality materials.
There are so many different designs, offering several possible features: water cannons, climbing walls, splash pools – the lot! These water playgrounds can be super versatile, as they can be used as bouncy castles when it’s no longer summer.
There’s quite a lot to consider when buying an inflatable waterslide, so I’ve put together the following pointers to help you make an informed decision.
Choosing the Right Size
The bigger the better, right? Well, not necessarily!
The size of the waterslide you should buy will be dictated by the size of your garden. Specifically, the flat area of your garden – you certainly won’t be able to put these inflatable playgrounds on any slopes or uneven ground.
It’s better to be safe than sorry, so you should physically mark out the available space in your garden, using a piece of string or skipping ropes to get an accurate measurement.
Remember that you want to leave a border, as you don’t want the inflatable pressing against your shrubs and flowerbeds. Also, allow for extra room around the edges that are OK to get wet – kids are capable of projectile splashing water for many metres, and you won’t want it anywhere near your washing line!
It goes without saying, but ensure you have enough space to keep the inflatable waterslide well away from flower borders, pet enclosures and fence lines. The neighbours won’t be happy if they have unwanted peepers looking into their garden all day.
Checking Maximum Capacity
It’s great when all the kids can get onto the waterslide at once, but this can come with some risks if the inflatable isn’t up to the job.
Too many kids on the waterslide will either burst a seam or cause it to tip over. The manufacturer’s instructions will recommend a maximum capacity and if it says three kids aged 3-10 then stick to it – or you might watch your investment deflate before your eyes.
Once everyone knows you have a waterslide, they’ll all be angling for an invite, but don’t invite four kids if the waterslide will only hold three. The consequences could make it a waste of effort and money.
You’re better off spending more on a bigger waterslide so everyone gets a turn, and definitely don’t turn a blind eye to the manufacturer’s capacity recommendations.
High-Quality Materials to Look Out For
The best inflatable slides are manufactured with strong PVC that’s difficult to puncture. Inflatables take a lot of beating from energetic kids, so they need to stand up to the task.
Look for good quality PVC or a heavy-gauge vinyl. Commercial strength nylon is a suitably tough material for waterslides too.
The tubing that connects the waterslide to your garden hose should be thick, and the connectors need to be of top-notch quality. It isn’t a waterslide without water, and connections that keeping falling apart will quickly put a dampener on everyone’s fun.
Any material, no matter how tough, will perish if you leave it outside for months on end. Sunlight damages PVC, so once the kids are done playing with their inflatable slide, allow the material to dry and pack it away. Store it somewhere dark and cool.
Deciding if it’s a Worthwhile Investment
Be honest and really think about how often you’ll use the waterslide.
If it’s so much of a faff that it’s left packed away or makes an annual appearance at a birthday party, then you’re better off saving your money for days out.
However, if you have kids that are packed with energy, or you’re an outdoor kind of family, getting the inflatable out on a regular basis will give you lots of value for money.
You might end up spending a few hundred pounds on an inflatable water castle. So, you should compare that cost with how much you’d spend taking your kids out over the summer.
Days out might cost at least £100 a day, if not more. So, a waterslide can be pretty good value in comparison, if it’s used many times over the years.
Parents with work commitments over the holidays, like a work-from-home day, might find that a waterslide gives them the peace and time to accomplish their tasks whilst keeping the kids occupied.
Pay particular attention to age or weight limits on the manufacturer’s instructions.
Waterslides are great fun for all ages, but too much weight makes them dangerous, toppling over or violently bursting a seam.
Most inflatables will accommodate kids between the ages of 3 and 10, but bear in mind that a 10-year-old weighs much more than a 3-year-old! If you have three 10-year-olds on the inflatable, it’s pushing the boundaries and there might be an accident.
How to Safely Store Away
Ah, the age-old problem of storage!
Many good quality inflatable waterslides are sold with their own carry cases. However, it’s almost impossible to fit them back in unless you have the patience of a saint.
If like me, you tend to lose interest after 4 minutes, you’re going to need a bigger box or a shed to store it in.
Make sure the waterslide is completely dry before packing it away or it’ll grow mould and become unusable.
Keep it stored away from extreme temperatures and bright lights, otherwise the material will become thinner, making a deflation more likely next time around.
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Inflatable Water Slide FAQs
How do I inflate my waterslide?
Most of the better quality waterslides are sold with a blower to make light work of inflation. If yours doesn’t include a blower, you’ll need to get one – blowing it up with your bike pump or lungs will take all eternity!
Blowers are electrically charged, so you might require an extension lead if the inflatable is placed away from your house.
Are waterslides safe?
If it’s made according to accreditation and used as the instructions indicate, waterslides are safe. That goes for all outdoor equipment.
There is the extra issue of water and small children to contend with, so make sure they behave sensibly and never leave them unsupervised.
It’s really important to adhere to the age limitations given by the manufacturer. If it says it’s suitable for kids aged 3-10, don’t let a 2-year-old on.
Though the inflatable waterslides featured on this page are large, they have limits on the number of children for a reason. So, avoid letting on lots of kids at once, as it increases the risk of deflation whilst it’s being used.
Will an inflatable waterslide puncture?
With good quality inflatables punctures are rare, but they can happen. That’s why the top makes include a decent puncture repair kit.
There are three main ways to avoid punctures:
- Never wear shoes, remove watches and jewellery including hair slides, and avoid playing with hard toys.
- Don’t let your dog join in – sharp claws and PVC do not mix.
- When you set up the waterslide check thoroughly beneath it for stones or pieces of wood – anything that could rip the material. Try putting children’s foam carpet tiles down, underneath the inflatable.
- Don’t drag it along when deflated, as this increases the likelihood of a puncture.
Will a waterslide make my grass muddy?
Inflatable waterslides attach to a hose pipe. The water is not recycled but collected in the splash pool. Any overflow will therefore soak into your grass.
This is good news during droughts or hot days, but repeated sessions might make the area muddy. Think about moving the waterslide around or setting a time limit on how long the hose can run for.
Putting some tarp down will reduce the damage to your lawn. However, you should make sure the type of tarp you use will not damage your inflatable, as some materials are not a good match for each other.
To Buy Or Not To Buy?
Inflatable waterslides are tons of fun for kids because they universally love playing in water – we’ve all witnessed how much enjoyment they can get from even a simple paddling pool.
From adventurers that throw themselves down the slide, to quieter kids who like to float and splash in the pool area, there are lots of ways to enjoy an inflatable waterslide.
And let’s not forget the peace they can bring to a harassed parent – that sort of tranquility is priceless.
However, the best inflatable waterslides can be expensive, so it’s worth weighing up your options – would you get more joy out of a few weekends out and about?
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