Last fall’s hurricanes wreaked havoc on communities across Florida, including nursing homes and assisted living facilities. Without power, nursing homes were unable to run air conditioning. During Hurricane Irma, residents overheated, resulting in lost lives.
This tragedy spurred lawmakers to create new state laws, passed in March of 2018, that require every nursing home and assisted living facility in Florida to have a backup generator. These laws require facilities provide each resident with 30 or more square feet of space at less than 81 degrees.
All nursing homes must have 72 hours’ worth of fuel for their generators on site. The same is true for larger assisted living facilities. Only 48 hours’ worth a fuel is required for assisted living facilities with less than 17 beds. Backup generators must have the ability to regulate temperature for at least 96 hours.
These laws go into effect on June 1, 2018. The state’s Agency for Health Care Administration, local fire departments and, in some counties, emergency management staff will be inspecting nursing homes and assisted living facilities to ensure compliance. Failing to comply with the laws could result in suspended licenses or fines for nursing home and assisted living facilities.
A version of the two new laws were introduced immediately following Hurricane Irma in September. That emergency rule did not stand up in court, resulting in the two new laws passed through Florida’s legislature and signed by the state’s governor early this year.
Florida joins a small list of warm-weather states, including California and North Carolina, that require onsite backup power capabilities. While long term care providers that serve Medicare and Medicaid patients are mandated to be prepared for an emergency, the federal law does not cover all facilities or include a specific ambient temperature.