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Can adults use a Slip 'N Slide?

A race fan slides down a Slip 'N Slide in the rainy infield, prior to the 139th running of the Kentucky Derby at Churchill Downs in 2013. See more extreme sports pictures
Jamey Price/Getty Images

It's so hot the ice cubes in your glass of lemonade enter oblivion before you can wet your lips. Even the air conditioner can't keep up. Worse yet, your children have taken to lying about, whining in a pitch your psyche simply can't handle much longer.

Since you're sweating through summer solstice anyway, why not fully commit? It's time to launch a series of water-drenched shenanigans on your own front lawn.

The Slip 'N Slide, one of the world's simplest and most popular summertime inventions, can help your children (and you) survive the heat. Plus, it sets up in minutes and will soon attract your children's friends from within a six-block region.

Perhaps the most remarkable thing about the Slip 'N Slide is its homage to the effectiveness of advertising. Take a brightly colored box housing an equally vibrant plastic toy; add a few well-timed marketing photos and a pinch of nostalgia. VoilĂ ! You're the proud new owner of a $10 toy that is probably not worth the price you paid.

In its most basic form, a Slip 'N Slide is a long, thin plastic sheet (usually about 40 inches wide and 25 feet long or 1 meter wide and 7.6 meters long) to which a garden hose is attached via a cylindrical tube on one side [source: Walsh]. Tiny holes in the tube let the water spurt out to ensure a slippery surface. The water collects in a shallow pool at one end of the sheet. Sometimes extra gizmos, such as tiny fountains that shoot from the sides of the plastic sheet or inflatable "boogie boards," are part of the package.

Slip 'N Slide users queue at one end of the plastic sheeting, get a running start, fling onto its watery surface and then slide until they come to a stop in the shallow pool at the end. It works best on a gentle, downward slope -- one that, naturally, is free of rocks and sticks [source: Wham-O].

There are some clear winners in this mecca of backyard fun: your children, their friends and your fragile psyche that couldn't handle any more whining to the tune of "I'm bored" or "There's nothing to do." But there is a definite downside, too. Adults aren't supposed to use Slip 'N Slides.