Weathering the Storm with New Florida Laws

May 2, 2018

One of the costs of living in beautiful South Florida is an annual visit from Mother Nature and her threats of hurricanes. People who are not native Floridians tend to overlook the dangers of a hurricane’s aftermath.

When Hurricane Irma struck the Sunshine State last September, a transformer that powered the air conditioner at the Rehabilitation Center at Hollywood Hills lost power. Temperatures in the nursing home climbed to over 99 degrees Fahrenheit, causing the residents to suffer from dehydration and other related symptoms that eventually led to their deaths. The tragic incident left 12 elderly people dead in Florida.

As a result, Governor Rick Scott signed Senate Bill 7028 (SB 7028) and House Bill (HB 7099), which makes permanent the emergency rules requiring every nursing home and Assisted Living Facility (ALF) in Florida to have emergency generators.

“The tragedy at the Rehabilitation Center at Hollywood Hills made it clear more needed to be done to ensure the protection of vulnerable Floridians during emergencies like Hurricane Irma,” Scott wrote in a release. “That is why I immediately ordered state agencies to issue emergency rules requiring each nursing home and ALF in Florida to have emergency generators on hand to keep residents safe. We fought aggressively to quickly implement this life-saving rule at facilities across the state and I am proud to sign legislation today that makes this rule permanent.”

SB 7028 and HB 7099

The new rules require all such facilities to have an alternative power source by June 1, 2018. The power source must ensure that the temperature in a portion of the facility big enough to accommodate all of the facility’s residents is kept at 81 degrees Fahrenheit or cooler. Assisted living facilities must have access to sufficient fuel to run the alternative power source for a minimum of 96 hours in the event of the loss of primary electrical power.

Gearing Up

Florida has 3,089 assisted living facilities and 685 nursing homes. Since the beginning of this year, over 100 nursing homes and close to 200 assisted living facilities have had the proper equipment installed. State officials say it will cost facilities almost $430 million to comply with the standards, reports the AP. “Florida faces an annual risk from Mother Nature, and these rules will help keep seniors safe during a possible devastating weather event or … prolonged power outage,” Agency for Health Care Administration Secretary Justin Senior stated in a release.

When it comes to hurricane season in South Florida, you can never be too prepared. The same goes for estate planning, the better your plan is, the better shot you will have at weathering the storm. Contact OC Estate and Elder Law at (954) 251-0332 or, to learn more about effective proactive planning.