Filling System

Written by Renee Eng
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In a crisis, it's vital to keep your head and act according to a plan. Often, using time and resources wisely can help to avert the worst of any situation. Creating a barrier to hold back floodwater is an urgent measure, almost always undertaken in a crisis. If you feel that you may experience flooding in the future, then it's well worth giving some thought to how you would go about protecting your property.

Most people don't want to go ahead and erect a barrier of sandbags before a flood is actually happening. For one thing, they look really ugly. Secondly, one would feel pretty self conscious about constructing a full scale dike if nothing actually happened. Leaving it until the last moment, however, can be very risky. At least have all the necessary equipment ready, so that when you know it's time, you are ready to go.

The first thing you'll need is an adequate supply of sandbags. You will have to calculate your need for these based on the length of dike that is needed, and the length of each sandbag. Remember that to do its job, a barrier will need to be erected in a pyramid fashion. It needs to be a lot wider at its base than at the top. A good guide is to plan for it to be two feet wider at the base than it will be high. If you looked at your sandbag wall end on, it would appear like an upside-down V shape (hence the pyramid comparison).

Plan for Filling Sandbags

Apart from the bags themselves, you'll need plenty of sand (or soil as a last resort) and an implement for filling the bags. Don't be temped to use gravel or stones to fill your sandbags; this type of material will not shape easily and will not do a good job of holding back the water. It has to be sand as a first choice, or earth.

You can fill sandbags with a shovel (or several as the case would probably be). This is a very time consuming way of doing it, however. Ideally, special bagging machinery would make the job a snap. Most of us wouldn't be prepared to shell out the money necessary for this though, and it would be a very cumbersome thing to have to store. Of course, you can rent such machinery, but the chances of finding it available when a flood is imminent are slim.

A better bet would be one of the specific implements that have been designed especially for filling sandbags in a hurry. Their advantages are that they can often be used by one person (as opposed to two or three with the shovel method), and are typically inexpensive, so you could have two or three on hand to help you out in time of flooding.

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