If you and your customers don't live near a worldfamous inflatable water park, why not provide a mini-version right in their backyards with one of the water-related inflatables on the market? Water-related inflatables make for great summer fun, but rental company owners should approach the purchase and operation of one with great care. Inflatables that are specifically meant to be used in and around water are (or should be) constructed differently from traditional "dry" units, according to Bob Field, Senior Vice President of Gutting Edge Creations. "We weld the vinyl on all covers and the pool area, instead of stitching," says Field. "The welded vinyl retains water longer and does not degrade the thread." Field recommends that when shopping for a water-related inflatable potential buyers should look for welded liners and a long blower tube that keeps the blower far away from the activity area of the unit. Also, rental company owners should not use a dry slide as a water slide in a misguided attempt to get double duty out of their inventory. Field says that dry shdes should never be used in conjunction with water. It's not a question of the vinyl being affected— it withstands the moisture—but rather the thread. 'Detwiler "Water and stitching do not mix. The vinyl will hold up using water but the stitching will eventually start to dry rot causing seams to open and stretch." Setup and operation of water-related inflatables are also a different proposition. Houston Enterprises Owner Roy Soliz says the water-related inflatables are definitely "more work on our part" and therefore must carry a higher rental rate. "Imagine an alreadyheavy 800-lb. inflatable. Water weight increases the poundage dramatically. It becomes 1,500 pounds when wet," remarks Soliz. Added time drying and cleaning the unit takes away from time and effort you can expend elsewhere. And, drying isn't something that can be skipped intermittently or the aforementioned dry rot and mildew can get a foothold. Hard surfaces and potentially muddy surfaces are two big no-nos with water-related infiatables. Robin Chapman owner of Barefoot Bounce located in Central Texas recommends a grassy surface, not concrete. Water-related inflatables make up about 20 percent of Chapman's inventory and he finds that he keeps them rented for birthday parties, church events and other celebrations from March through mid-November. However, these units require special consideration on the part of the rental company operators,mainly with regard to logistics. Before booking an event you should consider whether the client can provide nearby access to a continuous water supply and whether the site itself is suitable for the displacement of many, many gallons of water either during or at the end of the session. What is the safest setup arrangement? Weighted containers should be used in place of stakes on smaller slides and devices using water. Water slides should and must be dried thoroughly inside and out after each use to prevent mildew from forming on the vinyl and rotting the areas that are stitched. Several different types of inflatable water devices are on the market including slides and "slip and slide" units and many claim age ranges from five to adult depending on the product labeling for sizes and weight use. However, Chapman thinks water inflatables work best for older kids. "Little ones often can't get up enough momentum to slip and slide," he claims. They also may not have the necessary coordination to maneuver on the unit in the safest possible manner. Soliz thinks all ages can use and enjoy water-related inflatables, but he believes it's more important than ever to keep the age groups separate. "You don't want older kids playing at the same time as the little ones." Safety is a concern with all inflatable devices but doubly so with water-related units where there is a potential for drowning, like those that have catch pools. According to Larry Cossio, owner of Cossio Insurance Agency, insurers look at water-related inflatables differently. Because the premiums can be hefty for smaller operators, Cossio suggests that rental company owners call their insurance agent prior to any purchase, but especially with water-related inflatables. "There's a minimum premium threshold," he says. "Larger companies probably will have an umbrella policy and greater premiums to spread the risk." Anyone with fewer than five or 10 units may pay more. Cossio is quick to point out that he isn't dissuading anyone from exploring this type of purchase, but cautions them to do so wisely, getting input from their agent before writing a check. "Every state is different and the demand is definitely there for the warmer states. Get on the phone, do the math, and see if the unit works for you."
Your Inflafable Watar Park
If you and your customers don't live near a worldfamous water park, why not provide a mini-version right in their backyards with one of the water-related inflatables on the market? Water-related inflatables make for great summer fun, but rental company owners should approach the purchase and operation of one with great care. Inflatables that are specifically meant to be used in and around water are (or should be) constructed differently from traditional "dry" units, according to Bob Field, Senior Vice President of Gutting Edge Creations.