August 14th, 2022

Extreme Drought Conditions

Texas is currently experiencing statewide drought conditions. Numerous water systems are stressed and may continue to experience issues as the drought progresses, and there are concerns about the impacts on long-term care facilities. Water may become limited, in addition due to the extreme heat Texas is using a record amount of electricity so we may be subject to rolling blackouts in the near future.   A/C systems are stressed and foundation problems such as cracking have occurred, due to the extreme heat and drought.

LTC providers should review their emergency preparedness and response plans to ensure people know what to do in an emergency related to drought. Confirm contingency strategies are in place and continue readiness for potential issues, including breakdowns associated with water supplies, power supplies and cooling systems.

A few tips from us at Twogether Consulting: 

-Don’t wait til the breakdown or disaster occurs, stock up here and there on bottle-watered supplies now, not during a water shortage occurs, and panic has set in at the stores.

-Maintain your A/C/Cooling systems:

  1. Change the filter regularly.  Probably every 2-3 months for most central A/C systems, but check the guidance for your system.  With the African dust being so severe, and little rain during the drought, more dust and dirt may be getting into your A/C filter, and trust me, it can shut them down quick this summer.
  2. Be sure to inform and train your staff at the group homes, if they are persons that need to complete this task.
  3. If you have maintenance staff, please have them maintain a regular schedule for changing A/C filters for the facility and the group homes.
  4. If you do not have maintenance staff or others taking care of filters.  If the filter is dirty, often that can cause your system to go down.

-If you own some of your own “group homes”, it may be a good idea to purchase homeowner’s insurance now, in case these types of breakdowns occur, as the cost will be much less than paying to fix or even purchase brand new A/C system. Many times they can get someone out to fix the equipment or appliance a lot faster as well with a minimal service charge for coming to fix it. .

-Do you have a backup place the individuals can go, in case the A/C does go out and you can’t repair it quickly?

-Do you have a few bigger size coolers (preferable with wheels for portability), in case the power goes out for a lengthy period of time and you need to ensure your food doesn’t spoil if possible?

-Purchase a backup generator (if feasible &/or appropriate)

-Have your staff check to see if batteries need replacements in flashlights in the group homes.

-Purchase some fans and portable plug-in coolers if A/C system goes out or may go out soon (if feasible &/or appropriate)

Read the news release about the counties currently under the Governor’s Disaster Declaration for Drought and the proclamation from the Governor (PDF).

Visit the HHSC Emergency Preparedness webpage for more information on emergency preparedness for LTC providers.

Email questions to LTCR Policy.