Making Your Own Sandbags to Prepare for Flooding

Jan 30

The first two weeks of 2014 have been filled with miserable weather for Britain, with harsh winds and constant rain. Some areas are even in danger of extreme flooding, and other areas are already swimming under centimetres of water, so it is important to be prepared for if flooding occurs in your area, or how to improve conditions if it does happen. There are several short term solutions provided online to help reduce the chance of damages happening when flooding occurs, and the most effective of these is using sandbags. In some cases flood damage is unavoidable, and where this happens it is important to seek professional help and advice, but hopefully you can help minimise damage done by using sandbags.

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Where?

Normally you can find sandbags in your local B & Q or DIY store, plus there are a variety of sandbag suppliers online. However in times of intense damaging weather conditions and flooding the council may distribute sandbags to those at a greater risk of flooding. You’ll need anywhere between 20 and 30 sandbags in order to properly protect a standard sized home on concrete slabs.

Alternatively you can make your own sandbags if supplies are short or if you want to try and save some money.

How? Making and Packing

Use a pillow case or corduroy sack and fill it 2/3rds full with sand. Take care not to fill it too much as sandbags can be too heavy to carry when the sandbag is full. It is better not to use soil as sand is much more resilient, becoming harder when packed and wet, whereas soil tends to disintegrate. Do not tie off the top of the bag, unless you tie it off to move it around.

When packing the sandbags together, lay them so that the empty part of the sack is covered by the next bag. Use the same technique as you would when laying bricks by stacking the sandbags so that there are fewer gaps. After laying down one layer, flatten the bags down by stomping on them so that the bags are more compact to increase protection.

What Needs Protecting the Most?

Doorways and gateways or doors that have space underneath them. Pack the bags two or three layers high so that the water is fully blocked but the sandbag wall is still low enough for you to easily get through the door. Air vents between brickwork may also need sandbags, but smaller vents can be covered with waterproof plastic or coverings.

Drains and sewage holes are also important to block, as heavy rainflow can make drains overflow and back up. Cover shower, bath and floor drains with smaller sandbags.

Danger Passed

When the danger has passed and your sandbags have done their job it is important to throw away any wet or damp sandbags as they are not reusable. Be careful with wet sandbags, as the water may be contaminated with locals sewage or harmful chemicals, so using gloves is recommended. Your local council will have procedures for the disposal of used sandbags, so check with them for the correct procedures.

Hopefully these tips will help you prepare against flooding and may even reduce the damage to your home!

About the Author

Simon Tomasson is a building maintenance contractor who regularly blogs about his experiences in the trade. He has contributed this post on behalf of Apex Building Solutions, expert building insurance claims management providers with experience in repairing buildings affected flood damage.

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