Inflatable Solutions

The homeless are my concern: where they roost, what they eat, and their healthcare. It is a complex social issue with limited resources available. Fortunately, there are shelters as a stop-gap measure. During peak season, the winter months, we think mostly about how many beds we have open. If we run out, we have to have a creative solution. We stumbled across the air mattress and things will never be the same. We can offer our services to many more than expected.

An inflatable bed beats the ground by a long shot. It beats even a real mattress if it has lost its spring. The homeless have been known to grab one from a dumpster and drag it to their tented domain. If only they knew that the local shelter had better. As a matter of fact, I wish they had better, too. A great project would be to replace worn beds with inflatable alternatives that are cost effective and comfortable.

You don’t have to go crazy and get a plush high rise (pillowtop style) version and some fancy bamboo sheets for it. You can get the basic model without added bounce for sleeping satisfaction. They make this inflatable bed very well and they compete favorably with the coil/inner spring kind. Wouldn’t that be a scene: an array of such twin beds lined in a row, durable and inviting. If a shelter already has a number of good beds, keep then and add to the mix during an overflow. This way the refuge can accommodate more people up to a certain pre-set and legal capacity.

In a shelter, the quality of the material used is important. It has to last. Vinyl is a good option, especially if it is puncture proof. Some beds are wrapped in flocking. And don’t think you can’t tuck in sheets on the side of an inflatable bed. You can. The shelter denizen will never know the bed is full of air. (Keep those pumps handy and nearby!) During slow times, such as summer when the homeless like to roam about in nice weather, you can deflate the mattresses and store them.

The main accessory for the portable bed is an external pump. The bed itself has an air valve for easy inflation within under two minutes. In spite of the thickness of the vinyl and the overall weight at about ten to twenty pounds, they are not hard to move around. Getting a budget bed at a discount makes the whole enterprise laudable. You can buy a few “in bulk” for good savings. As a non-profit shelter, you may get a few donations of older styles thrown in.

This kind of option makes running a shelter a bit simpler as you don’t have to scramble when the homeless come calling. The inflatable beds are pretty comfortable as I have tried them out. They aren’t the lap of luxury, but who expects it. They are practical and expedient, and in the right price range. If you let your local businesses know of your project, they should jump on the bandwagon and add some new ones to the stable of existing beds.