This week is Flood Action Week 2022 across the UK so we thought we’d examine the humble sandbag and ask: Does it really work?
Well, the straight answer is no, not really.
Flood experts hate them and environmentalists certainly aren’t fans as sandbags can quickly rot, spilling sand all over the place, especially down drains.
Yes, they’ll keep some water out for a while but they take lots of space to deploy and need loads of people to transport and deploy so it’s a slow, laborious process.
And that’s if you can even get them as local authorities have no responsibility to provide sandbags to homes and businesses when flooding is imminent.
The Environment Agency warns: “Don’t assume the authorities will provide you with sandbags in a flood emergency. It is the responsibility of property owners to take appropriate action to protect their property from flooding.”
The Environment Agency doesn’t like sandbags anyway, stating: “Sandbags are relatively ineffective when compared to purpose-built flood protection products. We strongly encourage people to use these products.”
UK flood expert Mary Dhonau doesn’t pull her punches when it comes to sandbags too.
She said: “When a flood happens everyone shouts for sandbags but they simply don’t work. They are heavy, unsustainable and environmentally unfriendly. Sand escaping from sandbags can block drains too, making the potential for floods to be worse the next time.
“Sandbags do more harm than good and it frustrates and upsets me to see them continually being used as a go-to solution when they don’t work.”
So, what is the go-to solution?
Well, it’s an alternative sandbag called a FloodSax.
Pound for pound FloodSax alternative sandbags can be a more cost-effective way of providing flood protection both outside and inside buildings. They are space-saving to store and quick and easy to deploy as highly effective temporary and flexible flood barriers.
Simply immerse them in water and the gelling polymer inside the FloodSax absorbs and retains it, transforming the FloodSax into an instant sandless sandbag.
So here it is in a nutshell, the great sandbags v FloodSax debate.
Must be replaced regularly costing thousands of pounds for big companies and local authorities who need palletised sandbags ready all year round for any emergency.
Can deteriorate if stored for a long time, especially in cold, damp warehouses.
Exceptionally unwieldy to lift and handle with all kinds of health, safety and manual handling technique problems for staff who have to use them for flood mitigation at businesses.
Messy with the sand easily washed out and adding to all the damage if they burst.
Difficult and expensive to transport anywhere due to their weight. One box of 20 FloodSax is equal to 20 sandbags on a pallet.
Need a lot of people to move any number of sandbags anywhere and then build them into flood barriers which makes the operation very time consuming when every second counts during a flood.
Seep water even when well-stacked and trodden into place.
Easy to store and can be vacuumed-packed to save even more room.
Environmentally friendly. FloodSax are 96% biodegradable by weight.
Multi-purpose and flexible so can be used indoors too, unlike sandbags. In their dry state FloodSax can be also used to deal with drips, leaks, spills and floods. They can be slipped into hard-to-reach places such as beneath pipes and boilers to soak up leaks, drips and spills. Traditional sandbags are, well, just sandbags.
Always there for peace of mind. No panic to buy sandbags if a flood is forecast.
Can be expanded in water right next to where you need them and stay taut until the flood subsides so are ideal as strong and robust flood barriers.
Lightweight before they are used with the standard bag weighing just 0.2kg (7 ounces) so can be used by people who would not be able to lift sandbags.
Thousands can be quickly transported in a van, saving on fuel, wages and manpower.
Can be stored in small depots around the area, not one huge central store so can be taken even more quickly to the scene.
One can be expanded and put down the toilet to block it from filthy water being forced up by the floodwater backing up through the drains and sewer.
FloodSax don’t need sand - one of the earth’s natural resources - and so saves the environment.
For more information on FloodSax go to www.floodsax.co.uk