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Emergency Planning

Sandbags and other Flood Protection Products

Flood protection products alone will not make a home flood proof, and cannot prevent underground seepage, which may lead to flooding from below if water levels remain high for a long time. However, their use may slow the flow of flood water into a property giving residents more time to move themselves and their belongings to safety. This page gives some basic information about forms of flood protection. The Environment Agency website contains more information.


Sandbags are bags that hold sand or soil so that a low wall can be built to dam the flow of water. Sandbags can be obtained from builders’ merchants or DIY stores.

If using sandbags, put a large sheet of heavy-duty plastic between them and the wall of your house. This makes a better defence than sandbags alone. Do not forget that water will come through any airbricks if they are not protected.

SandbagsIf your house is under threat and you have no sandbags you will need to improvise. It is very unlikely that the council or anyone else will be able to provide sandbags quickly enough in a real emergency. 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.

It is the responsibility of property owners to take appropriate action to protect their property from flooding. Your district or borough council may have some sandbags ready to deploy at times of flooding but their priority is to protect the public at large. Depending on the scale and location of flooding it may not be possible to get these to you in time. It is likely that sandbags will not be available to a large number of individual homeowners if they find their properties threatened by flooding.

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 you may like to consider obtaining flood boards. These do not need to be elaborate - 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, it 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 to take the weight of water but it will help seal the gaps under and around the door.

Products available to buy

There are now a number of approved systems, such as shields for doors and air bricks, which manufacturers have designed to alleviate the effects of flooding. These systems have been approved by the British Standards Institution (BSI) and are kite marked 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.


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