Dear friends and neighbors:

Adult family homes are a great solution for many people who need help with meals, laundry, personal care and other aspects of daily living. A home can take up to six residents, but also faces a serious responsibility that hit home in the worst way during last year’s record heat wave.

P.J. Knowles, a firefighter and EMT for Puget Sound Regional Fire, told me he responded numerous times during the heat wave to calls from adult homes, only to find residents who had died from the high temperatures. On one shift alone, three people died from heat stroke. One of the victims was a 21-year-old woman with a rare medical condition. In another instance, after he removed an occupant whose internal body temperature was 107 degrees, Knowles said he used a thermal imaging camera on the ceiling and got a reading of 115 degrees. In many homes, he said, the windows weren’t even open to allow a breeze.

That’s why I’m sponsoring Senate Bill 5606. This legislation would allocate $5 million to establish a grant program in the Department of Social and Health Services to ensure air conditioning is provided in adult family homes. The bill would also require applicants for licenses for new adult family homes to provide air conditioning.

I know lots of homes here in the Pacific Northwest don’t have air conditioning, and most of the year we don’t need it. But our swings in weather are getting more extreme, increasing the need for air conditioners to keep our more vulnerable neighbors safe. SB 5606 aims to do just that.