How to Properly Stack Emergency Sandbags

Burlap as a Root Ball Wrap New methods of weather detection have prevented countless dollars of flood damage, but Mother Nature can still be unpredictable. Natural disasters are often more disastrous than they initially seem, and protection against rising floodwaters is often limited. Floods are one of the most common and devastating natural disasters around the world. Tsunamis, heavy rains, dam malfunctions, hurricanes and more can cause them. Populations near the coast, in heavy rainfall areas, next to rivers and even in dry areas that are prone to flash floods are at risk. Thankfully, preparation and knowledge can go a long way in limiting the damaging effects of floods. 

Preparing Flood Sandbags for Emergency Use 

Sandbags are one of the most effective ways to create a dike and protect your property. They can help stem the water flow and keep your home, car and family dry. Emergency sand bags are a fantastic tool, but they can't do their jobs if they are not used properly. In order to prep the best possible sandbag for dike construction, fill the bag only about halfway. If your bags are too full or empty, they will be less effective. Be sure to tie the top of the bag securely. 

Preventing Injuries 

As with any heavy lifting, you can injure yourself moving sandbags around in an emergency. Do everything you can to prevent this. You may not be able to lay down enough sandbags if you hurt yourself. Use correct posture when lifting heavy sandbags to prevent back injuries. Form a line of helpers, if possible. The person doing the lifting should squat beside the bag, hold it snugly and lift with the legs. Hand it off down the line until it reaches the person piling the bags. This person should squat using the knees and legs to place the bags, never bending at the hips. 

Proper Layering Technique for Emergency Flood Sandbags 

Place your first layer of emergency sandbags parallel to the flow of floodwaters. You'll want to lay each bag so that half is full and half is empty, not allowing the sand to shift across the length of the bag. The full half of each consecutive bag should lie on the empty half of the bag before it. The empty sections of sandbag will help seal the areas between the sand. Walk on each layer of bags to compact the sand. 

When you start the next layers, offset it by half a bag in the same way bricklayers edge the corners of brick walls. This prevents straight seams. When you are finished with your barrier, cover it in a sheet of plastic. Make sure to weigh the plastic down with additional sandbags. 

If the floodwaters are more than a foot deep, you will need extra sandbags. Build each wall of the dyke up into a pyramid shape. Build the dike at least one-foot higher than the point you think the water will reach. 

Controlling Seepage 

Sandbag dikes are not 100% leak-proof. You can control any water that gets through using a sump pump. If you don't have a sump pump available, all you need is a shovel and a bucket. Dig holes on the dry side of the trench and empty them with buckets, tossing any water seepage back over to the wet side of the barrier. 


Floodwaters can be quite contaminated. Therefore, you should not use the sand within your emergency sandbags for anything other than construction. Check your local regulations to determine the best way to dispose of used sand from flood barriers. 

Tips and Tricks: 

  • Have a system in place before a flood happens, and make sure that you will able to put up the dike before it's too late. 

  • Have all of your dike-buildings supplies on hand every flood season. If you wait until the last minute, you may not be able to get access to the supplies you need.

  • Use polyethylene sheeting that is at least 6mm thick. 

  • If your dike is going to be taller than three-feet high, you can strengthen its contact with the ground by digging a trench one-sandbag deep and building your dike starting in the trench. 

  • Remove any barriers between your dike and the ground before building. Ice and snow can cause the dike to fail. 

  • Cotton caulking can improve the water-tightness of a brick flood wall 

While the flood is occurring, you will have to maintain the dike, as well as remove any back-flow and seepage that circumvents the sandbags. 

Building an emergency sandbag barrier during a flood is a massive undertaking involving planning ahead and physical labor. However, it can prevent tens and even hundreds of thousands of dollars of damage to your property. Seek expert advice. Plan your system well in advance. You can also take advantage of our emergency hotline and online guide on proper use of sandbags against rising water.

Contact NYP Corp today for all your emergency flood sandbags!