English | Gaeilge |
OPW Logo
Bottom Curve

How can I protect against floods?

What about sandbags?

It is a good idea to always have a supply of sandbags at hand if you live in a flood risk area. If you do not have sandbags you can use alternatives such as pillow cases or refuse sacks filled with garden soil. Remember not to fill them too early or far away from the site where you need them as they can get very heavy, very quickly.

  • When filling a sandbag wear protective gloves as sand is abrasive.
  • Do not fill the bags more then half full. It is not necessary to tie the ends of the bags, simply tuck the open ends underneath when you are stacking them.
  • Remove any debris from the area where the bags are to be placed.
  • Place the half filled bags lengthways and parallel to the direction of the water flow.
  • Place bags in layers like a brick wall, make sure that in the next layer each bag overlaps the one below by half.
  • Stamp bags firmly into place to eliminate gaps and create a tight seal.
  • If you need sandbag protection which is more than three layers high, build them up in a pyramid style: begin with a base more then four sandbags thick and then build upwards, tapering towards the top.
  • For extra waterproofing cover your sandbag wall with plastic sheeting, making sure to weigh it down with additional sandbags.

Although sandbags are a popular defence against floods they do have their disadvantages.

  • During an emergency, sufficient quantities may be difficult to obtain.
  • They are time consuming and require two people to fill.
  • They can be difficult to handle, particularly for the elderly or infirm.
  • When they come into contact with floodwater, they tend to retain contaminants such as sewage.
  • Sacking material is biodegradable and can disintegrate if left in place for long periods of time.