First a few words from Mary Dhonau - the "de facto flooding tsarina" according to Richard Girling of the Sunday Times.
"It has long been a ‘soap box issue’ of mine that we should ban the use of the humble and inefficient sandbag, which is, let’s face it, no more than a ‘comfort blanket’ when a flood emergency happens. They are difficult to fill (unless you happen to have a sandbag filling machine); they are time-consuming to fill (around an hour per 12 sandbags) plus delivery time on top. At individual property level they do no more than filter the water and certainly should not be considered as a 21st century solution to flooding"
One one hand we have the traditional bag of sand, (hardly an ecological option), let alone a practical one. The other is a biodegradable, lightweight, and flat packed modern alternative!
Sandbags have a short shelf life - they absorb moisture from the air, harden, are dirty, heavy and unwieldly and that is before they are used. These bags need to be sourced and stored (in sufficient number) ideally as close as possible to the most likely point of flood risk.
Being bulky, dirty, heavy & in volume - where and how to store them is the 1st Issue.
The 2nd Issue (and it is a big one) is in accessing them, physically lifting, loading and transporting them to where they are needed - when they are needed and doing this quickly.
The 3rd Issue - putting to one side potential conflicts like not having sufficient vehicles or manpower to transport them, traffic jams & obstructions or not being physically strong enough to get the bags where they are needed, is that they are quickly contaminated, leak and drip continually when moved and are a huge problem to dispose of (ethically and correctly).
A few more wise words... (thanks to The Emergency Services Times)
"Sandbags are extremely heavy, even when dry, and can be beyond the capability of most ordinary householders to lift into place, let alone the elderly and vulnerable. They are not easy to store and quickly become unusable – many people have told me that when they’ve gone to collect them in times of flood, the bags have disintegrated when they are picked up. Once used, sandbags are even more difficult to handle, as the water increases the weight still further, and are also likely to be contaminated with sewage (I still shudder as I recall a large and malevolent looking toadstool I saw growing on one at a neighbour’s house), which adds to the disposal problems."
Known as ‘Flood Resistance’ - this means protecting a property, using flood protection products or building materials to try to prevent floodwater from entering a property and damaging its fabric and contents. (or, in the worst case scenario, they will at least give you time to move your possessions to a safe place.)
So dependent upon your location & circumstances - being if the risk of flooding is a severe and ongoing problem or that you are exposed to an occasional and often unexpected risk of flooding, then a decision needs to be made how much to invest & which solution to go for, but thought and the preperation of a Flood Plan is definitely required.
More severe and permanent measures will involve some expense, but they will pay for themselves in the long term, will represent time and money well spent and, hopefully, reduce the distress flooding causes. They are far superior to the humble and inefficient traditional sandbags which often only filter the water.
One that overcomes all of the Issues identified above. FloodSax are practical in design, they are cost effective, lightweight (200g each), designed for easy and unobtrusive storage (supplied flat & vacuum packed), are easy to carry, simple to activate and position where needed & when needed in minutes with the minimum of effort or inconvenience.
If this wasn't enough FloodSax are absorbent transforming from a flat "pillowcase" to a stackable bag (in 3-4 minutes) after absorbing up to 20 Litres of water (or indeed other liquids). If the problem was a leak then each bag absorbing this volume, that quickly too goes a long way to minimising the damage & the problem.
FloodSax design is robust and the bags are patented (a key differentiator vs. other bag options) They donot tear, drip or leak, can remain stacked in-situ for months if necessary and are eventually biodegradable.
The Know Your Flood Risk campaign's comprehensive guide ‘The Home-owners guide to Flood Resilience', provides the following advice.
Floodwater can often enter a home via. the doorway sometimes entering a home through the front door and leaving via. the back door destroying everything en route. This type of flooding could well be prevented, or at the very least lessened, by fitting doorway flood protection. This can be easily fitted in front of your doors, should you receive a flood warning or else think a flash flood might be likely when a heavy thunderstorm is forecast. Also think about keeping a supply of ‘sandless sandbags’~ they are a bit like disposable nappies for giants and can soak up to about 20 litres of water. (These can mop up any residue.)
We propose that every business or home that is at risk should have at least a couple of carrier bags of FloodSax (4 per bag) in a cupboard (under the sink) or in the boot of your car - anywhere immediately available & easily accessible.
FloodSax alternative sandbags are now used by facilities management companies, business continuity and resilience managers, emergency planning managers and flood risk managers and are a must for people living on floodplains.
The Environment Agency, states (in our favour):
“Sandbags are relatively ineffective when compared to purpose-built flood protection products. We strongly encourage people to use these products.”
The Environment Agency rounds up this article, with a clear statement of truth - a warning:
Mary Dhonau OBE, Chair, Flood Protection Association (www.marydhonau.co.uk)
Know Your Flood Risk campaign ‘The Home-owners guide to Flood Resilience' www.knowyourfloodrisk.co.uk/sites/default/files/FloodGuide_ForHomeowners.pdf
The Emergency Services Times