Sandbags for Flooding are an essential tool if you live in area prone to flooding.
A house is more than just an investment. It’s your home and it holds all of the things that are important to you – your family, your valuables and your livelihood, so naturally you do what you can to protect it. When you live in an area that is prone to hurricanes, sandbags are something you become all too familiar with. These are commonly used in preparation for flooding to help protect homes and buildings from water damage. When used correctly they can be very effective and help homeowners as well as business owners save a ton of money on losses incurred from a flood.
Sandbags for Flooding
With the El Nino already underway it is expected to bring much more rain than average. It is predicted that states along the Western coast, specifically California, can expect up to 60% more precipitation than normal for the beginning of 2016! The time to make necessary preparations is now and it is imperative that you know how to use sandbags properly in order to protect your home and personal assets.
Can I Use Other Bags to Fill as Sandbags?
It is not advised to use other bags that are not intended for use as sandbags as they may not be as effective. Sandbags are constructed for the use of containing sand or soil to prevent or reduce the impact of water damage in the event of a flood. They are typically made with woven polypropylene or burlap sacks. Plastic garbage bags are slick and will not create a sturdy structure when stacked. Feed sacks, although made of similar materials to sandbags, are usually large and not practical for handling.
These bags are primarily used in the event of an emergency where flooding or high water levels may be expected and may be distributed by your local emergency preparedness organizations. For people who may live near a river or in a low-lying area that is more susceptible to flooding, sandbags can also be purchased from bag suppliers.
Proper Sandbag Usage
The use of sandbags is mainly to divert moving water as well as debris in an effort to minimize water damage. There are different ways that you can use them for a multitude of reasons, but if not stacked appropriately they won’t be as effective. Likewise, they should be filled sufficiently in order to serve its purpose.
Filling Your Sandbags
It is recommended that you use sand to fill your bags with, however if it is not readily available soil will work too. When filling your bags, you want to fill them just slightly more than half-full, but not all the way. Bag filling is usually a two-person job as it will be easier for one person to hold the bag while the other fills it. Bags are much easier to handle if they are no more than 40 pounds when filled, although this may vary depending on the size of the bag (typical bags for sand-filling are 24-26 inches long by 14 inches wide). Bags will also be much easier to shape and form to create an effective wall against flood waters if they aren’t filled completely.
✓Tip: Sandbags will deteriorate over time from frequent wetting and drying. To create a more durable sandbag that will last longer use burlap sacks to fill with one part cement to 10 parts sand (or soil), stack in place then sprinkle with water.
Quick Dam | Sandless Sandbags (learn more later in the article)
One factor to keep in mind when protecting your home and property in the event of a flood is that sandbags are simply meant to divert water and debris away from the home, but do not create a water-tight seal. Proper placement will, however, significantly reduce the amount of water that seeps in and there are ways to keep as much water out as possible.
First, you will need to prepare the site where the bags will be placed. Whether you will be placing them against the building or creating a barrier or a wall, you should clear the area where they’ll be placed by removing debris such as large sticks, etc. These may cause gaps in your structure. Also clear the site of any ice or snow. Your barrier won’t serve you any good if the ground is too slippery and your sandbags all slide away when the water flows so you need to be sure there is enough friction to keep them in place.
Some bags will come with ties to close them once they have been filled. If your bags need to be tied for transportation tie them towards the top end of the bag and flare out or flatten the tied end. This will give the sand or the soil flexibility to move within the bag which will create a better barrier when laying them down atop of one another. For un-tied sacks, fold over the area of the sack that is not filled and tuck it underneath the sack so that the weight of the bag keeps it closed off. The bags should be placed so that the opened end will be facing against the expected water flow. Likewise, they should be stacked parallel to the direction of the water flow.
When you are creating a sandbag barrier, it’s best to keep it to just two layers. The exception to this would be if you were planning to create a pyramid barrier. The barrier should be slightly wider at the base than height to give it more stability. Complete one layer at a time and tamp down each bag into place You can do this by stepping on top of each bag to compact it. The tighter the bags are packed together, the less chance of water seeping through. As you place the bags for the next layer, stagger the seams as you would if you were laying down bricks.
To protect buildings from water getting in where the water levels are expected to rise you would stack the sandbags against the building. For sliding glass doors, windows, vents or other entries you can create a seal to prevent water intrusion by placing a plastic sheet (such as visqueen) on the ground and up against the wall then stack the sandbags on top. If you will be creating a barrier around buildings be sure to allow a path for the water and debris to flow between the buildings.
Can Sandbags be Reused?
Sandbags are only meant to serve as a temporary barrier against flooding. Unused, unfilled propylene bags can be stockpiled for later use if they are stored properly. Bags that have been filled with sand, soil, or other earth materials even if unused, will eventually deteriorate over time. If you store them once they’ve already been filled in hopes to reuse them for the next time you may expect a flood, they won’t be as effective.
You should dispose of used sandbags appropriately as recommended by your local environment protection department. Since floodwaters could be potentially contaminated with other chemicals and wastes, proper handling of used sandbags that may have come in contact is important for environmental safety reasons.
Protect your Home | Sandbags for Flooding
Sandbags are of no use if your property is already flooded – concentrate your time and energy on protecting yourself, your personal belongings. If possible, move your precious items to a safe place; off the ground, somewhere up high where water can’t reach.
Consider all entry points that water could get through, not just doorways, such as – air bricks, utility service points, cable entry points. Use other solutions for entry points where sandbags won’t work (such as silicone sealant).
It will take at least 6 sandbags to keep out 20cm (17.8″) depth of water for a typical door opening. Each sandbag will need approximately 15kg (33 lbs.) of sand. You should use sharp, not soft, sand.
Keep in Mind
During a crisis, when flooding is imminent, there will likely be a limited supply and demand will far outweigh the supply. If your local authority doesn’t supply sandbags, you can buy unfilled sandbags and a supply of sand from most local hardware stores.
In an emergency you can use alternatives such as pillow cases or garbage bags and fill them with garden soil. But, the smartest thing you can do is stock up on sandbags when there is no crisis and supply is high. Unfortunately most people wait until a disaster strikes before they act but here at Chainsaw Journal we always recommend preparing for the worst. When disaster strikes, it’s too late to prepare.
Start planning now. Stock up before a crisis. You’ll be thankful you did.
It would be a mistake to assume that the local authorities will provide you with sandbags in case of a flooding emergency. It’s your responsibility to take appropriate action and protect your property from flooding.
It’s possible that your local council may have some sandbags available during times of a flooding crisis, but their priority is to protect the general public, so I wouldn’t count on anybody else to be concerned about your personal property. Sorry, but that’s just reality. You can call your local authority in advance and find out what their policy is and if they will provide you access to sandbags prior to a flooding crisis. Honestly, I suggest to take responsibility for protecting your home and family.
Advantages of Sandbags
- Cheap and easy to use.
- Well-suited for protecting small, uneven or difficult to reach places.
- Can filter out muddy sediment found in flood waters.
Disadvantages of Sandbags for Flooding
- It takes two people to fill them (unless you have a sandbag filling machine).
- They take time to fill.
- Laying down sandbags is slow and time-consuming.
- Sacking material is biodegradable and will perish if left in place for a long time.
- Difficult to place sandbags in water, specifically running water.
- Sandbags are prone to leaking, even when well-stacked and firmly in place.
- When sandbags come into contact with floodwater they retain contaminants, such as sewage.
Quick Dam | Sandless Sandbags for Flooding
Quick Dam sandbags are available in a wide variety of sizes to suit your needs.
View or download the BROCHURE for Quick Dam sandless sandbags.
- Self-Activating Sandless Sandbags.
- No need for Sand or labor filling sandbags.
- Simply expose them to fresh water.
- Absorbs 4 gallons of water & grows to full size at 3.5″ high in 5 minutes.
- Swelled bags contain & divert flood water.
- Contains a super absorbent powder that gels water.
- Not for use with Salt Water- Sorry- there is a chemical reaction.
- Stack multiple bags to increase wall height.
- Stack in brick or pyramid formation for increased heights.
- Leave in place for ongoing protection.
- Lasts for up to 8 months of continuous use.
- Use through winter for thaw flood protection, frozen & still a barrier.
- Safe, Non hazardous & Non Toxic.
- Environmentally friendly & decomposes over time.
- Storm/Flood Preparation.
- Home- Doorways, garages, bulk head and other leaking areas.
- Building & Property Protection.
- Construction & Roofing projects- Holds back water.
- General water or leak control.
Do Quick Dams work with salt water applications?
No, Quick Dams do not work with salt water, calcium, lime or chlorine. There is a chemical reaction that causes the water to be released back out, making them not effective as a barrier & must be thrown away.
Can Quick Dams be used in the winter/snow? Will they freeze?
Yes, they can be used in the winter/snow. Make sure they are fully activated before freezing temperatures occur to assure maximum protection when the snow is melting. We do not recommend moving them while frozen to prevent any tearing of the outer material. Also, Salt on the roads should not come in contact with Quick Dams. To help, pre-activate Quick Dams with water & then wrap plastic under & over the top to prevent the salt from making contact.
Learn more by viewing or downloading: Quick Dam, Frequently asked Questions
Quick Dam Sandbags | Educational Video
Learn More | Sandbags for Flooding
Tips for Preparing your Home for Flooding
- Locate your electrical, gas and water shutoff valves and make sure you know how to shut them off.
- Secure or relocate to higher ground any unstable or dangerous materials that may be swept away or moved by flood waters (for example: pallets, lumber, fuel tanks, equipment).
- Identify any materials that could cause environmental damage if they came in contact with flood waters (for example: paints, fuel, gasoline, fertilizers, etc.).
- Ensure your property grade always slopes away from buildings.