Emergency Planning

Sandbags and other flood protection products

  • Sandbags can be bought at most builders’ merchants and DIY stores
  • Stocks of sandbags may run out quickly at times of flooding
  • The County Council’s priority for sandbag deployment during flooding is to protect essential services and public buildings, such as hospitals and roads

Using sandbags

  • Put a large sheet of heavy-duty plastic between sandbags and the wall of your house. This makes a better defence than sandbags alone. Remember that water will come through any airbricks if they are not protected.

Sandbags may slow the flow of flood water into a property, and give residents time to move belongings to safety.


Flood protection products alone will not make a home flood proof. They cannot prevent underground seepage which may lead to flooding from below if water levels remain high for a long time.

If your house is under threat and you have no sandbags you can improvise. Bin liners or plastic carrier bags filled with soil dug from your garden will serve the same purpose. Grow bags are the right shape and light enough to be carried around easily.

Home made flood boards and barriers

You will need to check that the pointing on the lower part of the house is sound and if there are any air bricks below possible flood level these should be temporarily plugged up.

If you think there is some risk to your property then consider obtaining flood boards. A piece of 18 mm marine plywood cut to fit across the door jambs can be temporarily nailed in place if required. Sealed with clay, plasticine, rubber, carpet or underlay, or wadded with wet newspaper,this can help to hold back water.

Another tip is to staple a sheet of heavy duty polythene over the doorway on the outside, or fix it with drawing pins or tacks to the jambs and door sill. You will need to keep the door closed but it will help seal the gaps under and around the door.

Products to buy

There are various systems such as shields for doors and air bricks which are designed to prevent or reduce flood damage. These systems have been approved by the British Standards Institution (BSI) and carry the kite mark. ed to show their status in a process which has involved the Environment Agency and HR Wallingford, the country's leading water research facility.

Blue Pages is an independent directory of flood protection products and service providers. This directory is compiled by the National Flood Forum.