Inflatable pools are a good way to have fun with the kids or pets if you don't have the time to take a trip to the nearest swimming pool, or the space to have one built in the backyard. Usually they are a summer staple to help diffuse the heat, and the most common inflatables are called "kiddie pools", though today people also have what they call "doggie pools" and the like for their pets. They are usually made of plastic, and can be taken out and filled up with water, then drained and folded away until the next use. Hence, if it's a question of convenience, inflatable pools are the way to go.
Tips on choosing an inflatable pool
The most common plastic pool has a 6-foot diameter with a ridged floor to help prevent any slip-ups. Other pools come with add-on features such as a plastic slide molded into the pool. Colors and design will also contribute to the pool's likability. Although not entirely necessary, choosing bright sunny colors will provide a better pool experience for kids and looks more appealing than if you opt for dark single-color pools.
There are a couple of questions you need to ask yourself if you're planning to go get the family an inflatable pool. For instance, how many people will be using the pool? How old are they? You might want to check out safety considerations for kids with younger ages, because even though inflatable pools are relatively shallow, depth will still count if you want to avoid any near-drowning incidents. Check for other safety measures, such as a ridged floor and possible rings on the side for holding on.
The size of the pool also matters, because although storage is not really a problem (just fold it up and stash it away), cleaning the pool takes some effort.
If your place is short on shade, check out inflatable pools with overhead canopies. These may cost a little more, but if you plan to spend an extended amount of time outside in the pool, you can lessen the incidence of sunburn by adding a shade.
Inflatable pools have sides that are softer than rigid plastic pools, and the obvious disadvantage is the problem of a potential air leak, so make sure before getting one that you have a pet-free, sharps-free place to store it.
If you wish to buy a plastic pool for an infant or a toddler, there are actually inflatable pools available and specially made for babies, and some come with activity gyms built in. Another alternative is an anflatable spray pool, which incorporates small canopies to which a hose is attached, creating a sprinkler in the middle of the pool. (Important: Never leave babies or toddlers by themselves in a pool.)
Of course, don't forget to buy an air pump with the pool; otherwise it's all just pretty useless.
Where to buy inflatable pools
It's not difficult to find good quality inflatable pools, as since its advent they have become a popular staple in toy stores. You might want to check out stores like Toys R Us, Home Depot, Lowes, K-mart, Walmart, Meijer, or Sears. Plastic swimming pools at these outlets usually cost approximately $10 to $20, depending on various features. They may even cost less if bought in lean season, such as in December or January, when people don't usually think about pools smack in the middle of winter.
If what you're looking for isn't in the local department store, online stores also offer inflatable pools, though an additional cost is imposed for shipping. KiddiePools.org is a good place to go with their awesome variety, and Amazon offers less commonplace inflatable pools, such as a larger 15 x 48 set that sells for approximately $400. However, the prices for an average-sized pool still falls in the $10 to $20 price range, so be wary of vendors that offer you too low a price for their product.
Other related inflatables
Of course, if you want to add some more fun to the novelty of inflatable pools (and seriously, that's saying a lot), consider getting plastic floatable rings or ride-ons. They cost a little more on top of the inflatable pool, however they go a long way in enhancing kids' experience. Animal rafts (i.e. Inflatable Gator Raft on eBay) can cost around $10 to $15, depending on the size and style they come in. Toddlers can be taught basic swimming skills by getting them arm floats, or similar floaters, and they sell for as low as $8 on Amazon. Whatever your preferences are, inflatable pools will definitely do much for your summer fun with the family.