Why Do Nursing Homes Have To Maintain Safe Temperatures During Power Outages?
Nursing care facilities rely on heating and air conditioning systems to maintain comfortable temperatures for residents. When power outages occur during storms, hurricanes, and ice storms, residents are at risk of contracting illnesses or dying when the facility does not maintain safe temperatures. If a nursing home doesn’t take the correct steps after a power outage, they can face criminal charges.
Heat-Related Illnesses in Elders
Excessive heat poses a severe risk to elderly residents in nursing homes.
Some of the common conditions and complications that an elder might suffer when exposed to extreme heat are:
- Heat stroke is the most dangerous condition to elders who have been exposed to excessive heat. Death may befall elders that don’t receive immediate medical attention for heat stroke. Those afflicted will have a high body temperature and might exhibit symptoms that include hot, red, damp or dry skin, a fast pulse, a headache, dizziness, nausea, and confusion. Those who suffer from heat stroke might also pass out and lose consciousness.
- Heat exhaustion is often the stage before heat stroke. It includes many of the same symptoms with the exception of fever. Clammy skin, heavy sweating, muscle cramps, and weakness are common warning signs of heat exhaustion.
- Heat rash leads to red marks and bumps on an elder’s body as a result of pores trapping sweat under the skin. Florida’s humidity, for example, contributes to heat rash and commonly affects seniors who are exposed to unsafe temperatures. If heat rash goes untreated, it might lead to painful pustules and infection.
Laws About Maintaining Safe Temperatures in Healthcare Facilities
In an effort to prevent future tragedies and protect nursing home residents from heat-related illnesses during power outages, Florida Governor Rick Scott signed bills in March of 2018 outlining requirements for nursing care facilities after a power outage. The new Florida laws include the following:
- Florida nursing homes and assisted living facilities must have a backup power source that allows them to maintain a temperature of 81 degrees or below for a minimum of four days.
- Facilities must have three days worth of fuel for the backup generator on hand, except small assisted living facilities with under 17 beds which need two days worth of fuel.
Seek Legal Help After Heat-Related Illness in a Nursing Home
If an elder you love has been injured, contracted an illness, or died as a result of exposure to excessive heat after a power outage, they might be eligible for compensation. Medical expenses, rehabilitation costs, pain and suffering, wrongful death, and other losses related to their injury should not go unaccounted.
Get the help your loved one needs by calling a nursing home abuse lawyer. An experienced nursing home abuse attorney can bring you and your loved ones the justice you deserve.