Sandbags are seen as something of a prerequisite when you are putting together a comprehensive survival kit. But why is this? It seems like everyone in the know recommends sandbags, but what are you supposed to use them for?
Sandbags are multi-purpose and highly adaptable when employed properly, and can be used for construction purposes as a support or structural component, for flood protection duty and even for defense, piled up as a fortification or reinforcement.
You might know that sandbags have been used for all sorts of purposes and for ages now, and the super simple versatility of a sturdy sack filled with sand makes them a reliable option for many of the same purposes today.
They really are an invaluable part of your survival repertoire, so keep reading and we will tell you all about what you can use sandbags for.
Building- As Supports and Structural Components
You’ll commonly see sandbags employed around all sorts of construction sites, those of a professional and a DIY nature.
When you need extra ballast, reinforcement, counterweight, or any other such purpose, sandbags have the weight and density to get the job done.
Sandbags also do double duty whenever you need to plug a gap, temporarily fill in a space or provide consistent pressure over a wide area.
They are durable enough to stand up to rough handling but malleable enough to be fitted in or around various shapes and inside nooks and crannies when called for.
Beyond this, sandbags themselves might be a component in a building or other structure.
Stacks of sandbags may be encased with other construction materials, or themselves can be directly employed by filling them with concrete before allowing them to set, creating heavy-duty structures capable of withstanding tremendous forces.
Sure, the resulting structure might be a little ugly when they are used this way, but I will have you know that many organizations, agencies and armies have relied upon this type of sandbag construction to rapidly build durable, usable structures in war-torn and disaster-struck areas alike.
Flood Protection- Keeping Water Out, or In
One of the most common and certainly the most well-known use for sandbags in our era is as a means of flood defense.
When filled properly and placed with careful attention to spacing and detail, sandbags can prove impermeable or nearly impermeable to rushing, rising flood waters.
Using a ready supply of sandbags in conjunction with other materials it is indeed possible for homeowners to direct otherwise unstoppable flood waters away from their homes or property, or at the very least impede the water.
With enough manpower, it is even possible to build temporary but functional dams ahead of rising flood waters, potentially saving areas that are seriously at risk in such circumstances.
Defense- Sandbags Reliably Stop Bullets
Another well-known but somewhat more grim use for sandbags is in the construction of temporary or semi-permanent fortifications for military applications.
With nothing more than sand or dirt, men may erect barriers that will provide serious protection from bullets and flying shrapnel.
The density of a thick layer of sand or dirt will reliably stop or, at worst, slow bullets, hopefully saving the men sheltering behind them.
Considering how portable sandbags are, at least until they are filled, this makes them a regular fixture in every kind of conflict zone and battlefield.
Sandbags are used to reinforce simple foxholes and dugouts, build bunkers or fortify existing structures prior to the onset of fighting.
As hard as it is to think about, a prepper might have the same use for sandbags when it is time to fortify their own home or other bug out location.
Setting up a fortified observation post or reinforcing the windows and entryways of a structure with sandbags could make the difference in a pitched battle when roving bands of looters or Marauders make their way to your property.
Fill Sandbags with Sand for Best Results
I know it seems totally self-explanatory, but it is worth mentioning that you should fill up sandbags with sand for best results, and preferably clean, uniform and washed sand if you have access to it.
The reason why is that sand is much heavier compared to dirt or gravel, and will provide the density and stability needed for the sandbag to do the job you ask of it. This is particularly important when using sandbags for fortifications or flood defense.
However, if you don’t have access to sand, or just don’t have the time to procure it, soil or even gravel can work in a pinch, although you should not expect it to do nearly as good a job for holding back flood water.
The same rules apply when filling sandbags with dirt or gravel: ideally it will be of uniform size and free of any sticks, twigs or other debris it could prevent the sandbags from nestling together tightly.
Sharp objects can also puncture the sandbag, spilling its contents- you definitely don’t want that!
Never Fill Them All the Way Up
One last thing when it comes to the proper employment of sandbags: with rare exceptions, you never want to fill them all the way up.
A full, plump sandbag is more vulnerable to puncturing or rupturing, and for many purposes like building, fortification and flood defense will prevent the bags from nestling together tightly and eliminating gaps.
Whether you’re trying to hold back water or bullets, gaps are bad news. To avoid this, you’ll want to fill up sandbags only 2/3 of the way full.
They should be flexible and floppy as this will allow you to stack them tightly, smooth out the edges and seal up any gaps in your wall or barricade.
By carefully staggering the placement and spacing of sandbags filled up this way, you can create a genuinely impenetrable wall that will have to be removed bag by bag or absolutely perforated with gunfire before it will fail.
Tom Marlowe practically grew up with a gun in his hand, and has held all kinds of jobs in the gun industry: range safety, sales, instruction and consulting, Tom has the experience to help civilian shooters figure out what will work best for them.