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Valley Briefing

Protecting Your House

November 03, 1996|JULIE SHEER

Last week's first storm of the rain season served as a reminder to Malibu-area residents of Southern California's mudslide dangers-particularly after a fire has burned much of a neighborhood's vegetation. But, as the rain season progresses, the Los Angeles city and county fire departments are urging all residents who live in flood- prone neighborhoods to prepare themselves by snatching up sandbags from either department.

Filling and Stacking the Bags

The most efficient way of filling and stacking the sandbags, which are made of either burlap or nylon, is shown below:

* Fill half full: Overfilling makes the bags heavy and difficult to manage.

* Placement: Place with the flap tied or tucked under and pointed in the direction of the water or mud's flow.

* Stacking them: Layered on top of each other tightly, with each layer staggered. Rows should be no more than three layers, unless they're supported by a building or placed in a pyramid.

Placing the Bags to Protect Building

* Use layers: Layers of bags should be placed against building.

* Protecting doors: To prevent water and mud from seeping under a sliding glass door, a plastic sheet should be placed against glass with sandbags or a plywood barrier hold the plastic in place.

Directing Debris Away From Building

* Make a line: Layers of bags should be lined up away from house to divert flow of debris from hill.

* Keep it in the street: Often curbs cannot contain floodwaters. Bags can be lined along the stret to help contain the flow.

Where to Get Sandbags

Both the city and county fire departments are providing empty bags, which can be picked up at the nearest station. Residents must fill the bags themselves.

City Fire Department: The Los Angeles City Fire Department is providing up to 25 bags to each household. The bags are available at individual stations or by calling the department's hotline at (213) 485-2337.

County Fire Department: The Los Angeles County Fire Department is also providing an unlimited number of bags, particularly to residents in the Malibu area. The bags are also available at individual fire stations.

Where to Get Sand

Gravel or garden supply stores. If sand isn't readily available, bags can be filled with dirt, mud or rocks.


Bags stacked in a pyramid, with opening facing away from flow.

Erect temporary wooden fence to deflect debris from home.

Board up doors and windows to keep out debris.

Place layers of sandbags against building.

Allow large path for flow of debris.

Rain falling on hills bare of vegetation creates a flood danger.

Use a permanent brick wall to divert debris from home.

Cut slope drain to direct and slow flow of water.

Plant slopes near home to absorb water and mud.

Source: Los Angeles city and county fire departments; Researched and written by JULLIE SHEER /

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