How to Make Sandbags to Contain Flooding

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Things You'll Need

  • Bags

  • Scissors

  • Sewing machine

  • Thread

  • Fabric

  • Tape measure

  • Scoop

  • Sand

  • Soil (optional)

  • Cement mix (optional)

  • Duct tape or string

Stagger the edges on each row for a tight fit and stable wall.

Caused by severe weather, such as thunderstorms, hurricanes and tsunamis, flooding damages property, disrupts ecosystems and kills people. Smart city planning reduces the impact floods have on society, but individuals should also be prepared for such emergencies. At-risk areas include flood zones, houses near any type of water and areas that see a lot of rain or hurricanes. If you know your house or property is at risk of flooding, creating a wall of sandbags will give you peace of mind and protection from small floods.

Step 1

Acquire or make bags of a suitable material, such as plastic, burlap or plastic cloths. To make the bag, fold a 36-by-12-inch piece of heavy duty material in half to make it 18 inches by 12 inches and sew three sides with a sewing machine.

Step 2

Use a scoop or small shovel to fill the bags half full with sand so that each weighs 35 to 50 pounds. You can also supplement the sand with soil or use a 10-to-1 ratio of sand and soil to cement mix.

Step 3

Close the opening of the bag with string or duct tape just above the sand line.

Step 4

Tuck the leftover material under the sandbag as you set it into place. Place the sandbags so that there are no gaps between them.

Step 5

Sprinkle the bags with water, if you used cement mix.


Inspect sandbags prior to rain and replace any worn or frayed bags. Sunlight will deteriorate them.

If you do not have anything to close the top, tuck the top under the bag and use the bag’s weight to hold it in place.

Place the fold upstream so that the water does not push it from under the bag.


Sandbags work best in conjunction with other flood deterrent techniques. Always be aware of rising floodwaters and evaluate whether or not you should evacuate.

references & resources

Megan Hippler

Born and raised in West Virginia, Megan Hippler has been writing environmental articles since 2008. Her work has appeared on the websites of various state government departments. Hippler has a Bachelor of Arts in environmental studies from Hollins University.