WEST MONROE, La. (KTVE/KARD) — During a weather event that may include flooding, everyone is quick to tell you where to stock up on sandbags to protect your property. But, has anyone ever told you how to use them correctly? Here is a guide on how you can utilize sandbagging to prevent flood waters from entering your home using traditional sandbags and self-inflating flood barriers.

Tools you’ll need for traditional sandbags:

  • shovel(s)
  • sandbags (if not provided already by sandbag locations)
  • sand (if not provided already by sandbag locations)
  • Tarp(s)
  • Work Gloves

Traditional Sandbags:

STEP 1: Clear the area where you want to build your sandbag wall. Any debris, decor, furniture, etc. will get in the way. Don’t build on uneven ground, or plan a design that has curves or sharp turns, sandbags need to settle flat to be effective.

STEP 2: Fill the sandbag: this is a two-person task, one person holds the bag, and the other person shovels sand into it. Only fill the bags till a little over halfway, overfilling the bag will make it more difficult to carry, move, compact, and form when you lay it down. Tie off the sandbags if you plan to transport them, do so closer to the top of the bag to allow for sifting of the sand. This will create a good seal for the wall. If not, fold over the top flap of the bag, leaving room so that the sand can move around when you lay it down.

STEP 3: Place the sandbags lengthways/parallel to the direction of the water flow. Ensure the open end of the bag is folded under the filled portion of the bag. Tamping down or stepping on the top of the sandbags before placing the next row will help create a better seal. 

STEP 4: When stacking second and third rows, stagger the bags on top of the previous bag by offsetting by half the length on top of the previous bag to the right or left, similar to the process for laying bricks.

STEP 5: For barriers that need to be over three layers tall, build in a pyramid shape,  it should be three times wider than it is tall.

OPTIONAL STEP 6: For added protection, seal the wall with plastic sheeting on the wet side, the side with the water, and secure with a row of sandbags across the top and along the bottom edge.

Self-Inflating Flood Barriers

STEP 1: Self-inflating flood bags contain a super absorbent material that expands when activated by water. To activate, immerse the bag in a freshwater source, or a garden hose, to saturate it. After about five to 10 minutes, the bags will fully expand to create an instant water dam. Depending on the bag size, they’ll hold about 4, 8, or 13 1/2 gallons of water, make sure you are using the proper size for your property.

STEP 2: The process of stacking self-inflating flood bags is similar to stacking traditional sandbags. As each bag is activated, lay it flat, in place. The opening of the quick dams should face against the water flow and offset the next layers like bricks. They can be stacked up to three high, if you need to go higher, widen the base like a pyramid. The higher you need the wall height, the thicker the base should be. Stacking straight up will create an unstable base and they may slide off.

STEP 3: The self-inflating flood bags can last for six to 12 months, although it’s recommended to not use them that long. To reuse, allow the bags to dry out over several weeks, the bags will shrink as the water evaporates. Store in a dry place, such as a shed or garage, until they’re ready to reuse. To prevent mold and mildew make sure they are completely dry before storing.