This year has been particularly devastating to certain parts of our country. Hurricanes Harvey and Irma have done massive amounts of property damage and caused a tragic number of deaths, especially among older citizens. Following the death of eight residents of an assisted living facility in Hollywood, Florida following a sustained loss of power, Governor Rick Scott put into place new rules that seek to prevent these sorts of tragedies from happening again. While these rules are only in place for ninety days, they can be renewed, and it is the state’s hope that they will be turned into law.

What Do the Florida Rules Say?

The new rules in Florida require assisted-living facilities and nursing homes to have the resources in place (namely, generators and fuel) that can maintain safe and comfortable temperatures for residents in any of these facilities. Each facility in Florida is required to make these changes within 60 days and have the additions inspected by a fire marshal within 15 days following installation.

While the loss of life in Hollywood is tragic, it was an outlier. Many other facilities in Florida weathered the storm with few or no negative impacts on residents. However, in order to prevent more tragedies like this from occurring, the federal government has long been working on changes to policy that would help ensure the safety of residents in nursing home.

The Federal Law That Aims to Address These Issues

After more than 200 people died in nursing homes and hospitals in the greater New Orleans area after Hurricane Katrina, regulators and policymakers struggled with how to make sure these facilities were prepared in case of disasters. Immediately following Katrina, some lawmakers tried to pass laws that aimed to protect residents but the nursing home industry pushed back, saying that the proposals were too expensive and unnecessary.

These federal laws go into effect this month, November 2017, but it will take time to ensure that requirements are met and the proper changes made. One of the best ways to keep your loved ones safe is to check with the facility and find out what their contingency and emergency plans are. They should be clear and simple and designed to handle any disaster.

Contact us at Safe Harbor Wills & Trusts in Syracuse or Watertown today if you have questions about how these laws and rules might affect you and your family.