The pioneering sandless sandbags, which have undergone extensive trials with the British armed forces, can save lives by mitigating explosions from IEDs while helping to preserve the evidence.
They are transformed from being as light as a pillowcase to more effective than sandbags in minutes. Easy and space-saving to store in warehouses or on vehicles, BlastSax weigh just 700 grammes before being activated by simply adding water and then they become taut, weighing 20kg (44lbs) in around 3 minutes.
BlastSax have been shown to be more effective than sandbags at capturing fragments from explosive devices and helping forensic teams gather evidence. They are also proved to be a reliable protective barrier against grenades and bullets fired by the standard British Army SA80A2 rifle with an official army report stating:
Even at extremely close ranges the BlastSax were able to contain the round. The BlastSax were able to offer excellent protection against this calibre of weapon.
And even when grenades landed on or very close to BlastSax they were able to absorb all the fragmentation.
BlastSax were also tested by an army bomb squad in the USA.
Their report concluded: "This trial seemed to prove the effectiveness of the BlastSax in a blast mitigation roll, more specifically in reducing the blast wave and capturing the fragmentation for forensics.
"The bags absorbed water very quickly and were deployed very quickly. While prepping charges, no water loss occurred. In an urban environment, BlastSax would have limited the damage to surrounding buildings and other structures. They would also be effective as an aide or a first line of defence in case something inadvertently went off while waiting for the Disposal Unit. BlastSax proved 100% effective for this trial."
The report added: “The BlastSax system could prove effective against unexploded ordnance, IEDs, small incendiary devices, small dirty bombs (when the water used is combined with a tropical bleach) and other small scale Homeland Security threats.”
BlastSax are manufactured by Environmental Defence Systems Ltd based in Yorkshire, England, and managing director Richard Bailey said: “We invented BlastSax after the Ministry of Defence approached us asking for an easily portable version of a sandbag that could mitigate the effect of explosions.
“After a great deal of research and testing we devised the BlastSax which has proved to be highly effective, especially when dealing with smaller improvised explosive devices. The BlastSax are vacuum-packed and weigh just a few ounces so can easily be carried to a scene, however remote, by just once person – the kind of places you’d really struggle to take sandbags.
“They have undergone stringent tests with the military and have a NATO stock code. After we had finished testing with the MoD the UK was hit by severe flooding and we were then asked by the British Government if we could make a version of a sandless sandbag for flooding, meeting strict criteria set by the Environment Agency and the Government.”
One person can carry 40 BlastSax at one time in dry state – equal to 800kgs sandbag weight - and they can be used with aqueous decontaminants to neutralise CBRN threats. They are ideal for conventional demolition, minefield clearance and personnel protection when preparing detonators.