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Sandbags - F.A.Q.

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Sandbags - F.A.Q. 807

WHAT IS A SANDBAG AND WHAT IS ITS PURPOSE?
A sandbag is a sack made of burlap or woven polypropylene that is filled with sand or soil and used for such purposes as flood control and military fortification. Sand bags are an excellent choice for the construction of levees, berms, dikes and barricades for erosion control, flood walls, and traffic control. Sandbags may be used during emergencies when rivers threaten to over-flood, or a levee or dike is damaged. Quick action and bags on-hand could save countless dollars in personal and property damage.

WHEN CAN SANDBAGS BE USED?
The use of sandbags is a simple, but effective way to prevent or reduce flood water damage. Properly filled and placed sandbags can act as a barrier to divert moving water around, instead of through, buildings. Sandbag construction does not guarantee a water-tight seal, but is satisfactory for use in most situations. Sandbags are also used successfully to prevent overtopping of streams with levees, and for training current flows to specific areas.

Sandbags alone should not be relied on to keep water outside a building. Use baffle boards (plywood sheeting) or sheets of plastic tarp with sandbags. To form a sandbag wall, place bags tightly against one another to form the first layer of defense. Stagger the second and subsequent layers of bags, much like the pattern of bricks in a wall.

Sandbags, when properly filled and placed, will redirect storm and debris flows away from property improvements.

WHAT SIZE BAGS WORK BEST FOR PRIVATE RESIDENCES AND BUSINESSES?
Use bags about 14-18" wide, and 30-36" deep. Sandbags should be filled half full for easy stacking and will weigh approximately 30 pounds. Thirty sandbags are equal to approximately ½ ton (one ton is 2000 pounds) and is the maximum legal load limit for a ½ ton truck.

HOW CAN I FIGURE OUT HOW MANY SANDBAGS I NEED?
It takes an average of 600 sandbags to cover a 100 foot section, 1-foot high.

HOW FULL SHOULD THE BAG BE FILLED?
Bags should be filled between one-third (1/3) to one-half (1/2) of their capacity. This keeps the bag from getting too heavy, and permits the bags to be stacked with a good seal.

WHAT MATERIAL SHOULD BE USED TO FILL THE SANDBAGS?
A heavy bodied or sandy soil is most desirable for filling sandbags, but any usable material at or near the site has definite advantages. Coarse sand could leak out through the weave in the bag. To prevent this, double bag the material. Gravelly or rocky soils are generally poor choices because of their permeability. Filled bags of earth material will deteriorate quickly.

WHAT IS THE BEST METHOD TO USE TO FILL SANDBAGS?
It is recommended to use a two-person operation to fill sandbags. Both people should be wearing gloves to protect their hands. One member of the team should place the empty bag between or slightly in front of widespread feet with arms extended. The throat of the bag is folded to form a collar, and held with the hands in a position that will enable the other team member to empty a rounded shovel full of material into the open end.

The person holding the sack should be standing with knees slightly flexed, and head and face as far away from the shovel as possible. The shoveler should carefully release the rounded shovel full of soil into the throat of the bag. Haste in this operation can result in undue spillage and added work. The use of safety goggles and gloves is desirable, and sometimes necessary.

HOW DO YOU STACK SANDBAGS?

  • Fold top of sandbag down and rest bag on its folded top (preferably untied so it will lay flat).
  • Take care in stacking sandbags. It is important to place the bags with the folded top of the bag in the upstream or uphill direction to prevent the bags from opening when water runs by them.
  • Tamp each sandbag into place, completing each layer prior to starting the next layer.
  • Clear a path between buildings for debris flow.
  • Lay a plastic sheet in between the building and the bags to control the flow and prevent water from seeping into sliding glass doors.
  • Limit placement to three layers, unless a building is used as a backing or sandbags are placed in a pyramid.

SANDBAG LIMITATIONS

  • Sandbags will not seal out water.
  • Sandbags deteriorate when exposed for several months to continued wetting and drying. If bags are placed too early, they may not be effective when needed.
  • Sandbags are basically for low-flow protection (up to two feet). Protection from high flow requires a permanent type of structure.
  • Sandbags are not always an effective measure in the event of flooding because water will eventually seep through the bags and finer materials like clay may leak out through the seams.

SANDBAG DON’Ts . . .

  • Sandbags should never be used to build a fortress around the perimeter of one's property. Doing so can actually trap flood-waters between sandbag walls and structures, leading to further damage.
  • Do not use garbage bags, as they are too slick to stack. Do not use feed sacks, as they are too large to handle.

SANDBAG SUPPLIES

Sandbag supplies can be purchased locally at the following locations. Please contact a supplier near you to see what they currently have available. 

Sandbag Suppliers

 
Location Address City Contact #
Jackson County, Oregon                          
Lowes 3601 Crater Lake Highway Medford 541-776-8421
Coastal Farm and Ranch 7303 Highway 62 White City 541-830-3713
Hubbards 2830 Crater Lake Highway Medford 541-773-7777
Home Depot 3445 N Phoenix Rd Phoenix 541-512-1458
Grange Co-Op 225 S Front St.  Central Point 541-664-6691
Grange Co-Op 2531 S. Pacific Highway Medford 541-772-4730
Grange Co-Op 421 A St.  Ashland 541-482-2143
Grange Co-Op 8205 Crater Lake Highway  White City 541-830-0015
Ashland Hardware 249 A St. Ashland Ashland 541-482-3476
Eagle Point Hardware 10840 Hannon Rd Eagle Point 541-830-4960
Main Building Supply-Ace 100 Broadway St. Rogue River 541-582-0577
Les Schwab 2308 Ashland St. Ashland 541-482-4181
Les Schwab 500 Matt Loop Medford 541-779-3180
Les Schwab 2095 Commerce Dr. Medford 541-779-5055
Les Schwab 701 N Central Ave.  Medford 541-772-5744
Parr Lumber 1231 Disk Drive  Medford 541-734-7277
Josephine County, Oregon    
Copeland Paving 695 Southeast J Street Grants Pass 541-476-4441
Diamond Home Improvement 1881 Northeast 7th Street Grants Pass 541-471-4300
Farmers Building Supply 1741 Dowell Road Grants Pass 541-476-0851
Fields Home Center 5285 Williams Highway Grants Pass 541-862-2111
Grange Co-Op 1710 W Schutzwohl Ln Grants Pass 541-476-7771
Home Depot 111 Northeast Mill Street Grants Pass 541-226-0114
IV Building Supply 434 Caves Hwy Cave Junction 541-592-3540
IV Fire Department 681 Caves Hwy Cave Junction 541-592-2225
Les Schwab - North GP 1694 Northwest 6th Street Grants Pass 541-479-2671
Les Schwab - South GP 320 Union Avenue Grants Pass 541-955-5200
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