Attendees at the Hurricane Summit in Orlando this week released new criteria for the safe evacuation of nursing home residents in the event of a natural disaster.

New criteria acknowledge recommendations made in a recent Government Accountability Office (GAO) report, which was released in April of 2008. Specific plans of action take into account such factors as a facility’s location, its relative distance from the natural disaster and how likely it is to be affected by floodwaters. Representatives of long-term care organizations and state emergency command centers from Southern states attended the summit, which took place on Wednesday.

Lessons from Hurricane Katrina informed the latest guidelines, said LuMarie Polivka-West of the Florida Healthcare Association. Even though only 15% of the population of New Orleans in 2005 was seniors, 70% of deaths resulting from Hurricane Katrina occurred among the elderly, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. These new guidelines are the latest effort to form a plan that would ensure the safety of those living in long-term care facilities.

The guidelines are available at