Shelters over capacity, emergency rooms busy because of cold weather

By  | 

LEXINGTON, Ky. (WKYT) - We're seeing more examples of just how dangerous it is to be outside in the cold for very long. Leaders at UK Hospital say they've been treating many weather-related injuries.

So organizations that help the homeless are working non-stop to protect them from the cold. At the Hope Center they don't turn anyone away even when they're over capacity because when it's this cold out, it can be life-threatening.

"There have been some recent deaths because of the cold," said Carrie Thayer, the director of development at the Hope Center.

Schools are out, but many of us still have work and reasons to get out in this miserably cold weather. But who knew shoveling snow or running errands could be deadly? That's not an exaggeration according to this emergency room doctor at UK Hospital.

"If you start to feel any chest pain, shortness of breath, numbness, tingling, feel like you're going to pass out, light-headed, or dizzy, you need to stop immediately," said Dr. Sameer Desai, who works in the emergency room at UK Hospital. "Go inside and rest."

This doctor has seen everything from slips and falls...

"We've seen a lot of traumatic injuries from people slipping on the ice. We've seen things like hip fractures, dislocations, and fractures of the arm. We've seen some head injuries from people falling and hitting their head," said Dr, Desai.

They've also treated patients with frostbite as a result of this recent arctic blast.

"We've had a few patients come in with exposure just from being in the cold weather for so many days, and their body temperature decreasing to a level that causes them issues as well," said Dr. Desai.

So what can you do to stay safe? Number one: don't expose yourself to the weather for too long. And watch out for warning signs that you're just too cold.

"If you start to have confusion, start to feel real numb, dizzy, if your skin turns bright red, or any kind of palpitations in your chest, those are all reasons to be concerned," said Dr. Desai.

The UK Hospital ER alone has seen about 500 weather-related injuries this winter with 50 of those being exposure.

At the Hope Center, they do get medical attention for anyone showing symptoms of exposure. The Hope Center has a crew out Thursday night, looking for homeless people trying to brave the cold.