Kentuckiana winter storm Feb. 10, 2021

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) -- Kentucky is under a state of emergency due to Wednesday's winter storm, and while icy road conditions are a big part of the concern, doctors are also warning people to be careful as soon as they step outside.

Dr. Matt Bozeman, an associate professor of surgery at University of Louisville's department of surgery, said the No. 1 injury associated with falls is a fracture.

“It’s something that’s not often in the back of people’s minds until it actually happens to them," Bozeman said. "Fractures of the hand and wrist are very common as you try to brace yourself when you fall — hip fractures, rib fractures, things like that."

When it comes to icy conditions like slick sidewalks, roads, and even grass, Bozeman said preventing a fall in the first place is key. He said salting your steps or driveway can be a huge help. If that's not available, he said kitty litter works too for building traction. 

 “In more severe cases, say you fall down a flight of stairs or things like that, often times, people develop traumatic brain injury if they hit their head hard enough where they can actually have bleeding in their head," he said. 

Bozeman also said to make sure you tell someone if you plan to leave home and check in with them. That way, if something does go wrong, people will know where to find you and when they should expect to hear from you. 

Frostbite is also a concern when the temperature drops. Bozeman said the two main factors that impact frostbite are temperature and wind chill. However, he said other factors play a role too. Being wet or dehydrated will increase frostbite chances.

He said staying wrapped up and being prepared is a good way to prevent frostbite. If you do travel, Bozeman recommends keeping extra blankets and jackets with you in case something happens. 

Bozeman said there are several stages to frostbite. The first is frostnip, where extremities become red and painful. He said the best way to treat that is warm water. Bozeman said to make sure the water temperature is less than 105 degrees, because frostnip can cause loss of sensation and people can end up accidently burning themselves by not realizing the water is too hot. 

More severe cases require medical attention.

Bozeman said with Wednesday's storm, exposed skin could start to feel impacts pretty quickly.

“Last night, probably around the order of 15-30 minutes, especially for uncovered exposed skin," he said. 

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