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Flood Protection - Materials

On this page you will find some information about materials used to create a proper protection. It will also give you some tips about the conditions under which they might be useful and how to use them correctly. A flood does not tolerate mistakes. Your protection is either working or useless. Regardless of what kind of protection you choose, the most important step is to be sure that you know what you are doing. Take some time before the flood to test and learn. Only then you will be prepared.

1. Sandbags

Sandbags are the most common forms of protection against flood. For a good reason: their use is relatively inexpensive and they are highly effective if used correctly. Until now there is no equal replacement for sandbags.

Only the filler material, usually fine sand, gives a sandbag its effectiveness. The purpose of the bag is just to hold the sand in place. Therefore the material the bag is made of is of no importance at all. Plastic based bags are more expensive but can be reused to a certain degree while normal bags will fall apart after a few month. The sand used to fill the sandbags should have a fine granular base and may contain some smaller rocks. The finer the sand the closer the sand particles will get. And the higher the effectiveness will be. The reaching floodwater will even strengthen the effect by moving the small particles close to each other and packing the sand tightly together. This effect can be also reached by giving your completed sandbag walling a good shower with the garden hose. Never fill the sandbags with ground from your garden. Water will wash it out and probably will leave not even the sandbag behind.

Even it's a very effective way to protect your property the use of sandbags has its limitations and disadvantages. Some of them are listed below.

Disadvantage Possible Solution
Requires hard work and many helpers; progress is very slow; tons of sand has to be transferred into the bags by hand and carried to their place. 3 persons are needed to handle a bag. One has to hold the bag, one is filling it, and one carries it away. Start filling sandbags as early as possible and store them at a central place. Always keep a certain amount of filled sandbags on the side for an emergency.
Large amounts of sandbags have to be used in order to create a protecting dyke. A dyke 30 m (100 ft.) long and 1 m (3 ft.) high requires about 3400 bags if done properly. Keep the protected area as small as possible. Carefully integrate the higher levels of the surrounding landscape. Have a bobcat moving ground to a dyke and cover it with plastic sheets (see below how to use plastic sheets).
Normal sandbags will weaken very fast when in contact with water. Many of them will probably crack when removing the dyke. Use the more expensive plastic based bags. Put a plastic sheet right beside your dyke and roll the bags on it. It is easier to shovel on the sheet than on grass.


How to use sandbags

Sandbags can be used for almost every aspect of flood proofing your property. It is the first choice in holding up a water flow towards your house and for minor adjustments in your overall protection.

The following list shows some examples for the use of sandbags:
  • create a sandbag dyke
  • raise lower parts of your landscape
  • extend the strength or height of a dyke
  • cover doors and windows
  • control and direct water flow through your property
  • hold other forms of protections in place
  • plug openings on the ground (i.e. sewer pipes, air shafts)
  • hold down an prevent things from floating away
The possibilities are almost unlimited. Using your creativity will let you find many other ways to integrate sandbags in your flood protection. Everything that works is good. The important thing is to do it right.

There are certain tips and rules you should consider when using sandbags.
  • don't overfill the bags; you only risk that the bags get pushed open by its weight and water washing the sand away; filling the bags only half is save and good recommendation
  • you don't need to close the bags; just flip the open end over; the next layer of bags will keep the content in place
  • bring all bags closely together and push them firmly in place; tamp each bag close to the next
  • never just pile up sandbags on top of each other. A pile of two layers may withstand calm water but if you go higher the water pressure will flip your wall over. Use this formula as recommendation for dykes:
    calm water: width = height x 2
    moving water: width = height x 3
  • You can extend your protection by placing a plastic sheet under the last layer of sandbags when creating a dyke. It is strongly recommend if you cover openings like doors and windows.




2. Plastic Sheets

Coming soon.....



3. Boards

Coming soon.....



4. Tubes

Flood tubes are a relative new form of flood protection and can be very effective under certain conditions. Even it is far from replacing dykes and sandbags this concepts provides some advantages over other protective systems. The latest designs offer an acceptable amount of safety and reliability and should be considered for the protection of larger areas.



5. Dykes

Coming soon.....

Will be continued ...