When the weather gets hot, the water comes out. Water sports, whether it’s games in a pool, water parks, or just a kiddy pool in the yard, are one of the most popular and refreshing ways to spend time in the summer away from screens. It’s no wonder that people all across Northern Texas love to rent water-based inflatables and water slides for parties, events, and just special days when they want to cool off.
Unfortunately, it’s rarely as simple as just calling up a company and renting a slide. Particularly in the summer months, you have a lot to consider to make sure you’re renting a slide that’s safe, fun, and available when you want it. Here are our top tips to make sure your slide rental is a success.
1. Know the Busiest Times of Year
When the weather is hot and humid, people want to hit the water. Many will make a trip to the beach, but many more stay at home to enjoy their pools, both public and private. For those without access to either of these, or those who want a change of pace, renting an inflatable water slide can be a great alternative.
What are the peak times to consider when you’re looking to book a slide? Just look at the weather! Historically, the summer heat ranges from mid-May to late September. The hottest days are around the end of July, so that’s when the most people are looking to cool off and will be booking their slides, days at the water park, trips to the beach, and other choices for refreshment.
You want to know the hottest times, so you can…
2. Book Your Slide Well in Advance
Making sure you get your slide when you want it is often a matter of planning. Inflatable rental companies, water parks, beaches; they’ll all be full up if you’re trying to book your rental in June or July for a few days or weeks later. It’s often difficult, if not impossible, to rent the slide you want on such short notice.
We understand that the weather is variable, and it’s difficult to plan a refreshing summer pool party months in advance. What happens if it rains? What happens if it’s not really that hot that day? What happens if something comes up? There’s a lot of unpredictability involved in scheduling anything months in advance.
Booking a slide in advance means you have access to it if you want it when the time comes. If you end up not wanting it, you may have to pay a cancellation fee, but if inclement weather means it’s not safe to set up, a good company will work with you to reschedule and make sure you get what you pay for.
In general, we recommend that you book your slide at least a month and a half in advance. We find that 45-60 days is plenty of notice to make sure we have what you want available for when you want it, though of course, you can book earlier to guarantee availability.
3. Make Sure You Have Access to a Water Source
It might sound like a basic tip, but you would be surprised at how many people don’t think about access to water for a water slide before it comes time to set up. With most inflatables, all you need is access to power to run the pumps that keep the inflatable, well, inflated. With a water slide, however, you need access to enough water to fill the pool and keep the slide wet for safety and smooth sliding.
In most cases, it doesn’t take more than a residential water connection and a 50 or 100-foot hose. You don’t need special access to a commercial connection or a hydrant or anything, and in fact, doing so is typically illegal. Remember that water usage for a water slide will be higher than your normal daily usage, so you may want to talk to your water provider if you have concerns about payment or rate limits on the spike.
You will also want to make sure that your water source is available to be used for recreational purposes. During the hottest, driest months of the year, many localities implement water rationing or usage restrictions, which a water slide most definitely doesn’t fit. You can check with your local municipality or monitor state-wide resources to make sure you’re not under a drought advisory when you want to be using your slide.
Inflatable water slides don’t use a ton of water – around four liters per minute, equivalent to a quarter of a garden hose’s typical flow. Still, that’s going to be a constant usage for as long as the slide is up and running, so keep that in mind.
4. Set Up With Enough Time Before an Event for a Slide to Fill
Most inflatable water slides have a pool at the bottom that needs to be filled. Given that they’re inflatables, they also need to be inflated before they can be used. Setting up an inflatable, filling the pool, properly wetting the slide, and ensuring everything is up and running and safe, generally takes around an hour or more depending on the size of the slide. When you consider time for us to arrive, transport to your designated location, and set everything up, you may want to allow several hours of time. In other words, make sure to schedule our arrival to line up to a few hours or so before your guests want to start using the slide.
Of course, we’ll be happy to work with you to set a specific schedule based on the number, type, and size of the inflatables you’re renting. Larger inflatables take longer to set up, and setting up multiple inflatables takes longer than just one, so be sure to develop a specific idea of what you want to rent before you start determining your schedule.
5. Make Sure You Have an Appropriate Space for a Slide
For safety’s sake, any inflatable slide you want to rent needs to have adequate space to set it up. This space should be large enough to accommodate the slide without crowding it in with other inflatables, structures, or obstructions like trees. For slides, we typically recommend a large, flat area on grass, though a concrete surface can also work. A flat surface is the key here; you cannot set up an inflatable slide on a hill or non-flat surface. Increasing the angle of the slide make sit no longer safe to use, and decreasing it makes it more difficult to actually slide down.
In order to make sure you have space, look into the footprint of the inflatable you want to rent. Some will need more space than others, and some will be safer on a softer surface like grass than on concrete.
6. Make Sure You’re Booking a Water Slide
Not all inflatable slides can be used as water slides. A water slide will typically have a pool at the end to slide into for a satisfying splash and to stop safely at the end of the slide. They are also made of more water-resistant materials and are constructed to be watertight. Normal inflatable slides are not constructed the same way or out of the same materials and thus are not suitable for water usage.
There are essentially three kinds of inflatable slides. Dry-only slides are only usable as a dry slide, and cannot have water added to them without disrupting their operation. Sometimes this means water soaks through them and doesn’t promote a sliding surface, and other times it can form a hazard with an unprotected air pump connected to a power source. Wet-only slides, conversely, only work when water is added. They are usually made of a material that isn’t as slippery without water added, and thus won’t be fun at all until some water is involved.
Finally, hybrid slides exist and are able to be used either wet or dry. Booking this kind of slide may be ideal if you’re concerned about water rationing; you can plan for a wet slide, but use it as a dry slide if a water source isn’t available on the day of the event.
7. Have a Backup Plan for Inclement Weather
No one can control the weather, so if the weather isn’t suitable for using a water slide, you want to have a backup plan.
What kind of weather might disrupt an event?
- Rain, in general, can put a damper on a party, though inflatable water slides can still be used in a light rain or passing shower. You may need to cancel dry slides or other non-inflatable games, however.
- Thunderstorms mean shutting down any inflatables until the storm has passed. Lightning is a hazard, and water plus lightning doesn’t quite mix.
- High winds mean canceling an inflatable party until they die down. Winds over 20 mph are too dangerous for inflatable usage, and that includes everything from water slides to bounce houses. They could potentially topple over and even bounce across the yard, damaging the slide and potentially causing a hazard. Not fun.
- Extremely hot weather can be a health hazard, though that can be offset by ensuring proper hydrating, making sure everyone has sunscreen and protection from the heat and plenty of shade for people to congregate.
In general, inclement weather means the easiest thing to do is reschedule your event. We’ll happily work with you to reschedule when available, but having a backup plan ready in advance can save a lot of trouble.
8. Make Sure an Attendant is On Duty
Any inflatable can be dangerous if it’s used incorrectly. The risk of falling, landing wrong, sliding too quickly, or otherwise causing injury is high whenever an inflatable is used incorrectly. Most of our inflatables are designed to be easy to use and supervise, meaning there’s no training necessary to watch them. However, we know that you don’t always want to be “on duty” to monitor a slide when you could be socializing at your event. Therefore, we offer staff to monitor and attend any slide we provide, as part of a rental package.
When used properly, the risk of any inflatable, water slides included, is minimal. Usually, the worst injury that comes up at an event is a rug burn or scrape, and often those aren’t even related to the inflatables.
In Texas, rental companies must report injuries to the state department of insurance. You can check a public database of injuries here. We recommend looking up any company you’re considering renting from, to make sure that they comply with safety regulations and that they don’t have a history of injuries.
9. Verify You’re Renting a Slide from a Reputable Company
In addition to checking for records of injuries, you often want to make sure the company you’re renting from is a safe, reputable, and reliable company.
It can be difficult to do this, but here are our tips.
- Check to make sure the company has a physical address. Some companies essentially operate out of a van and rely on changing their name and registration when an injury or other disaster occurs. A physical office makes this less likely.
- Check how long a company has been in operation. The older a company is, the more likely they are to be safe and reputable, due to the steep penalties for injuries or misuse of an inflatable device.
- Verify that the company has insurance on their inflatables. The same “Department of Insurance” linked above has a database for safety inspections, and you can verify that each inflatable has been certified recently.
Once you’ve verified these data points, you can look into things like online reviews, to make sure the company you’re looking to hire has a good reputation.
10. Make Sure Your Slide Complies with Local Laws
Texas has particular laws when it comes to inflatable devices, which includes inflatable water slides.
Checking with safety and insurance certifications is one part of those laws, which you can read about in our in-depth run-through here. You will want to verify that the company you’re booking is in compliance with state and any local laws, to ensure the best possible experience at your event.
As long as you follow these tips, you’ll be in a great place to enjoy water-based fun during the hottest days of summer!