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Sandbags for Flood Disaster Preparation: Sourcing and DIY Tips

Susannah is knowledgeable about the dangers of flooding and likes giving advice on how to prepare for floods.

Sandbags are an important bulwark against flooding

Sandbags are an important bulwark against flooding

Prepare for Flooding

During times of serious flooding, one of the most important things to most people after their own safety is to keep the water out of their homes and businesses.

There are many ways of blocking off and retaining water outside buildings, but one of the most popular ways of keeping the inside of buildings dry is by stacking sandbags around vulnerable areas.

The best places to find sandbags are usually emergency centers, gardening centers, and hardware stores.

However, sandbags can be a rare commodity when everyone is trying to protect their property, so it's important to be aware of cheap and easy-to-use alternatives for keeping your home dry.

Below you'll find some basic tips for getting the best use out of household items, as well as sandbags, to keep your house as dry as possible.

Where to Get Sandbags

Many places either give away or sell sandbags during times of flood. Most of these places will have maximums on the number of sandbags they will provide per person, to make sure everyone gets some. Here are some places that may have sandbags available in your area:

  • Government emergency services (e.g., SES in Australia)
  • Hardware stores
  • Camping stores

How to Reinforce Sandbags

Simply filling a bag with sand and throwing it at the door may be the fastest option if you're fighting desperately to stop floodwater coming in. However there are some ways to make sure you get the longest life and best results from your sandbags. These include:

  • Zip ties: Use these to seal up the open end of the sandbag to guarantee it won't bust open at the weakest seam.
  • Place the sand in plastic bags first: The extra layer of protection will keep the sand in the bag for longer and help stop water.

DIY Alternative Sandbags

If you can't access sandbags or there are none left nearby, there are many other alternatives you can use to shield your home from floodwaters. Here are some ideas:

For the bags:

  • Pillowcases
  • Double (one inside the other) plastic bags
  • Tarpaulins
  • Hessian fabric (many hardware stores and rural supplies will have hessian by the metre)

For the filling:

  • Potting mix
  • Gravel/small rocks
  • Kitty litter
  • Dirt
  • Heavy items such as blankets and old clothing or rags
  • Any heavy and moldable items

This article is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge. Content is for informational or entertainment purposes only and does not substitute for personal counsel or professional advice in business, financial, legal, or technical matters.


Kp on October 16, 2018:

Thank you soo much for writing this article it is very informative and professional good job.

Susannah Birch (author) from Toowoomba, Australia on April 26, 2013:

Thanks Peggy. I wrote this quick hub two years ago when we had serious flooding in our area and people were asking for sandbagging ideas. Seems it's still popular though!

Peggy Woods from Houston, Texas on April 26, 2013:

This is good information to know for everyone living along rivers or bayous that generally face rising waters every Spring with the Winter snow melts or other causes of flooding. Right now some of our Mid-West neighbors are facing this problem. Good to know of alternatives when faced with sandbag shortages. Up and useful votes and will share.

attemptedhumour from Australia on January 13, 2011:

Hi Wrylit, i Lived in Brisbane in 1979 in Albion. My mate and his wife bought a house in Fig Tree Pocket. They sold the house some years later and moved back to the UK. Their old house would be almost completely submerged in water by now. What a catastrophe, that will have long term effects on all of us. I suppose it's a little too late to take up your sensible advice, but one never knows when such advice could come in handy. Cheers