What is the MinuteMan Home Kit?
The MinuteMan Home Kit is specifically designed for homeowners who want a simple to use and convenient alternative to using sandbags to help mitigate the risk of water damage from floods and storms. The standard home kit contains (6) bags that when fully activated look and function like sandbags and (2) 8’ long “snakes”. They can be used just like sandbags but are always ready and less messy.
How many MinuteMan Flood Bags do I need
This will depend on what you are trying to accomplish and how much water you expect.
The bags by themselves are designed to divert the flow of water away from your house so that it can naturally drain. If you are mainly trying to keep water from entering under an exterior door from blowing rain, for example, then a single or double stack of bags placed in front of the door might be sufficient.
If you are trying to create a dam to hold back water from entering under that same door, you will need to use the bags with plastic and plywood as described here. In that case you may need multiple bags depending on how much water you expect.
It is better to have more than you need than not enough, and remember, floodwaters cannot be stopped, only re-directed.
How do the bags work?
The bags contain a non-toxic, environmentally safe “super-absorbent” chemical powder similar to what is used in baby diapers inside an environmentally friendly jute outer bag and cotton inner bag. When exposed to fresh water, they will expand to 500 times the weight of the absorbent.
How do I activate the bags? Do I have to pre-soak them?
There are several ways to do this. You can place them on a surface and let the rain or other source of fresh water expand them. If you expect a rush of water, it is better to pre-activate them by placing in a tub of water, or using a hose. You can also use puddles of water or lakes and streams, but these sources might contain organic matter that might lead to mold and mildew when using the bags. This might be especially important if using the bags indoors.
In all cases, it is best to first shake the bags from side to side to make sure the internal absorbent is dispersed evenly inside the inner bag, and then avoid folds and crimps when activating in water. It is normal to feel some small lumps in the absorbent and you can break them up with your fingers. Refer to the instructions provided with your kit.
Can I store the Home Kit and bags indefinitely until I need them?
You can, with some precautions. This is one of the big benefits, as they are always handy when you need them. Just make sure you keep them sealed in the inner plastic bag and don’t expose them to water. It is best to keep them up on a shelf in a garage or in a closet indoors, and off of a garage floor.
How long does it take to activate the bags?
The sandbag-shaped bags used for protecting exterior doors usually take about 2-3 minutes to fully expand. The 8’ long “snakes” used to protect garage doors or to divert the flow of water take about 5-6 minutes. You can expect that it will take you about 30-45 minutes to fully deploy all the bags in the standard home kit.
What do they look like when expanded?
The sandbag-shaped bags expand to a height of about 4”, will absorb about 4.2 gallons of water each and weigh about 35 lb. The “snakes” will expand to a diameter of about 6”, will absorb about 8.8 gallons of water and weigh about 75 lb. Handles on the bags are provided to position the bags.
How do I use the bags?
The flood bags can be used just like sandbags. Refer to the Instructions provided with your kit or the instructions are also available from the Resources section of the website. You can also watch the instructional videos in the Resources section.
The flood bags by themselves are intended to divert the flow of flood waters, not create a dam to prevent water from entering under doors or into the foundation. When using them by themselves, you need to focus on how to position them to divert water to where it can naturally drain away from your home. More information on how to use them to divert water is provided here.
To use the bags to create a dam to hold back water, you must use them in combination with plastic and plywood as described here. This is exactly the same way you would have to use standard sand bags.
Always remember that floodwaters cannot be stopped, only re-directed.
The bags feel slimy when activated. Is that normal?
Yes, that is normal and caused by the reaction of the water with the absorbent. It is not dangerous, except that if the bags are on a slick surface, water that seeps from the bags will make the floor more slippery than normal.
Can I use them indoors and outdoors?
Yes, they can be used indoors and outdoors. If used indoors, be cautious of water that will seep from the bags, and note the caution above about the slippery nature of the bags.
Can I use them in the winter to control runoff when the snow melts?
Yes, but you want to activate them fully before the temperature goes below freezing. Once they freeze, you should leave them in place so that the outer bag is not damaged when moving them.
Can they be used with salt water?
No. When activated with fresh water, exposing them to salt water will lead to the water being desorbed.
How long will they last once activated?
The bags once activated will last several months if used outdoors. As they are exposed to dry air, they will start to shrink, and then expand again when exposed to water. If they are used indoors, then will slowly desorb water and dry out. If they are kept in a dry area and not exposed to water, it will take them about 3-5 months to fully dry out, depending on the environmental conditions.
Will the bags get moldy?
Normally this is not a problem except for a couple situations. First, if contaminated water is used to activate them, then they might get moldy depending on where they are used. Second, if used indoors, for instance in a damp basement, they might be susceptible to mold just like anything else stored under these conditions.
How do I dispose of them when finished?
One option is to place the bags in a dry area, away from water. Ideally, you can place them in a garage or shed. They will completely dry out in from 3-5 months, assuming they do not come in contact with water, and the temperature and humidity. The bags can then be disposed in the trash. If you do not want to wait for them to dry out, you can also simply dispose of them in a landfill as you would other bulky household items. They are non-toxic and environmentally safe.
Can they be re-used?
Once the bags are completely dried out, then will reactivate when exposed to water, but will not expand to the same size as when they were first used. They are recommended for one time use only.
What if I accidently cut a bag open and expose the contents?
You should sweep up the powder, put in plastic bag, and put that in the trash. Then dispose of the outer bag in the same way. The absorbent is not considered toxic, but can irritate the skin and mucosal surfaces. Wash irritated skin with soap and water. For contact with the eye, flush for 15 minutes with water. If irritation continues or absorbent is ingested, seek medical attention. Refer to the Resources section of the website for safety data sheets.