These 20 FloodSax alternative sandbags come from this one box These 20 FloodSax alternative sandbags come from this one box A FloodSax sandless sandbag before it is immersed in water A FloodSax sandless sandbag before it is immersed in water

Do councils provide sandbags to stop flooding in homes and businesses?

The first severe flooding of the autumn has left many shocked at the realisation that councils don’t have to supply sandbags.

With well over 100 flood warnings in action in recent days people still wrongly presumed that councils will come to their aid if flooding is imminent.

Sadly this isn’t the case as councils do not have any responsibility to provide sandbags to anyone.

Yorkshire, Lancashire, Wales and Cumbria have been especially hard hit with motorists left stranded as rivers burst their banks in the Yorkshire Dales and other places.

And this is just the start to winter.

Many flood action groups, facilities managers responsible for large commercial properties, business and homeowners now invest in that vital 24 hour, 365 days-a-year cost-efficient protection by having FloodSax in their storerooms or garages. FloodSax resemble large pillowcases until they come into contact with water and when they do they absorb the water to inflate to weigh 20kg (44lbs) which makes them more effective than traditional sandbags at keeping floodwater out. It means 20 fit into a cardboard box which is easy to store and for one person to carry. Almost 3 million have now been sold worldwide.

Here’s what different councils have to say about sandbags. Some make it absolutely clear they don’t provide them in any circumstances while others reckon sandbags are not effective in keeping floodwater out.

Warwick District Council is one that pulls no punches, saying: “There is no statutory requirement for the District or County Council to provide sandbags although there is a broad expectation in the mind of the general public that, in a period of likely flooding, the local council will make sandbags available. This is not the case. Householders and landlords must therefore take responsibility themselves for the protection of their property.”

And Shropshire Council also warns: “If you think you are at risk of flooding do not rely on sandbags for the protection of your home or business. Sandbags are not effective at keeping floodwater from your property, are difficult to handle and troublesome to dispose of.”

All councils seem to agree that home and business owners need to organise their own protection from flooding so they are ready 24/7.

FloodSax are featured in a directory of anti-flood measures called the Blue Pages ( which has been compiled by anti-flooding charity the National Flood Forum.

Here’s what a few other councils have to say on sandbags and flooding.

Derby Council says: “Sandbags are heavy and time-consuming to put in place. Other products are now available to buy commercially which are both less cumbersome and offer a better standard of protection.”

Bradford Metropolitan Council adds: “There is no statutory requirement for a Local Authority to provide sandbags, nor to prevent a property from flooding. Many councils do not provide sandbags. Residents and business owners are responsible for protecting their own property and where they consider themselves to be in a high risk area they should make appropriate arrangement in advance of a flooding incident. The council may offer assistance where it can, but this will be prioritised.”

Both residential properties and businesses are low on that priority list.

Surrey County Council advises: “There is no statutory requirement for us to provide sandbags or prevent a property from flooding. Residents and business owners are responsible for protecting their properties and should make plans in advance of a flood.”

Guildford Borough Council states: “Try to make your own flood protection arrangements if you live in an at-risk area.”

For more information on FloodSax please go to and to watch a video which shows how they work simply click on

FloodSax are available at all branches of Travis Perkins or for the full list of our UK suppliers go to