Two cases of hypothermia identified as temps drop - WDRB 41 Louisville News

Two cases of hypothermia identified as temps drop

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LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) -- If you don't have to be out in the cold, stay inside.

That's the message local doctors have for area residents. Emergency rooms are treating people for hypothermia, and crews who have to work outside are taking extra precautions.

It was an eerie-looking Ohio River, Monday morning. Steam rolled across the water with the Louisville skyline in the background. That water was warmer than the outside temperature, causing evaporation that may have been fun to look at, but the price of the view -- being outside -- might not be so much fun.

"As the cold front continues and increasing wind chills like we've seen, I expect we see more people with hypothermia," said Dr. Thomas Cunningham of UofL Emergency Medicine.

Cunningham says this weather can be downright dangerous. Many are following the warnings by staying home.

Downtown Louisville was pretty bare Monday morning. People who were out were dressed in layers, trying to keep warm with gloves, hats, and hooded jackets.

"We've had two cases this morning of individuals who were out in the cold trying to bear the elements themselves, two episodes of hypothermia -- not frostbite -- but their core temperatures were below 95 degrees when they came in," Cunningham said.

He says it doesn't take long for frostbite to set in. It can happen in as little as 20 minutes.

"We've seen a lot of people already come in with exposed hands, exposed feet, wet clothing," Cunningham said. "Anytime you have a situation when you have part of the country exposed to [colder] temperatures than they are normally, we will see more people with hypothermia."

Kelley Dearing Smith of the Louisville Water Company says utility employees can be at risk if proper precautions aren't taken.

"The biggest thing right now is safety for our crews who are out there," she said. "We have a small number of water main breaks that we're working. We have daily operations. We're reading meters."

With no choice but to work out in the cold, Louisville Water Company crews are taking extra precautions in this dangerous weather, such as making sure no meter reader is working alone.

"Today they have heaters on their trucks," Smith said. "They have a change of socks. They have tents if they need to set things up to get warm."

Ed Duvall, an LG&E Employee says, "Just layers after layers is about all you can do. Just keep yourself warm and stay as dry as possible."

Some LG&E employees say they're used to working out in the cold. The best thing to do is just be prepared.

"Right now because of what we're seeing, because of the heavy winds that's we experiencing, we're seeing some scattered outages in our area -- and that's essentially what there is potential for, with these heavy winds," said Natasha Collins, the Director of Media Relations for LG&E.

The Kentucky Humane Society's two pet resorts are also offering free boarding through Jan. 9 for outside dogs.

Copyright 2014 by WDRB News. All rights reserved.

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