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Does Florida Require Nursing Homes to Have Backup Generators?

As of June 1, 2018, all nursing homes and assisted living facilities in Florida are required by law to have backup generators or another alternative energy source so they can maintain temperatures if their facilities lose power during an emergency.

The new law comes following a series of preventable deaths at a nursing home where residents were left to sit in a sweltering facility after a 2017 hurricane knocked out its power, rendering its air conditioning system inoperable.

Why Florida Requires Nursing Homes to Have Backup Generators

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), when Hurricane Irma made landfall in Florida in September of 2017, the storm flooded coastal cities, devastated communities, left millions without power, and led to the deaths of 123 residents.

Nearly 10 percent of these deaths occurred at The Rehabilitation Center at Hollywood Hills in Hollywood, FL. After the nursing home lost its air conditioning system due to a power outage caused by the storm, residents spent three days in oppressive heat that climbed up to 99 degrees.

Residents remained at the nursing home despite federal rules that require the home to either fix the problem or relocate residents once temperatures rise above 81 degrees. Nursing staff only began evacuating the home after residents began to die. The deaths were ruled homicides because the nursing home failed to provide proper care, which includes keeping the residents under its care cool and hydrated.

These preventable deaths led Florida legislators to create laws requiring nursing homes and assisted living facilities to have backup generators.  

Details About the Backup Generator Legislation

Under the new law, nursing homes and similar facilities must have alternative power sources with sufficient fuel to maintain temperatures of 81 degrees or lower for at least four days.

Assisted Living Facilities Have Different Requirements Than Nursing Homes

Assisted living facilities have different licenses than nursing homes, and do not need to keep as much space cool during an emergency as a nursing home. Particularly small assisted living facilities—those with 16 beds or fewer—may only need to supply two days of fuel rather than the standard four, as well.

Facilities Located in Evacuation Zones

Any facility located in an evacuation zone must possess the following at least 24 hours before a state of emergency is issued:

  • Backup generator or another alternative power source
  • Enough fuel to support 96 hours of continuous operation

Otherwise, the law requires facilities in these zones to evacuate residents before an emergency arrives. Residents are entitled to notification in writing at least three days prior to being evacuated.

Penalties for Noncompliance

A nursing home or assisted living facility that fails to abide by any portion of the new law can be subject to penalties like:

  • License revocation
  • License suspension
  • Administrative fines

If you suspect a nursing home or assisted living facility is not maintaining a backup generator or enough fuel to power it during emergencies, it is important to report it as soon as possible. Taking legal action can help prevent injuries or wrongful death from happening in the future.

Call For a Nursing Home Injury Case Evaluation

If you or someone you love was injured during an emergency that may have been prevented if a nursing home had backup generators, contact a nursing home abuse lawyer right away. Call us at 1-800-516-4783 to discuss your case and learn more about your options.