BOYD COUNTY, Ky. (WKYT) – Repeated winter storms claimed two lives in Boyd County this week after officials said they had been without electricity and heat for too long. Power crews say outages in the area are unlikely to be fully resolved for another week, and the coroner fears more will die.
Boyd County’s coroner Mark Hammond tells WKYT that two elderly women died of hypothermia this week. He says these deaths are very rare in the region.
“It’s very unusual. Although we have a lot of homeless people, we have shelter. We have things that protect people.”
According to Hammond, it’s not just about how long the outages last, it’s also about where they are. Customers in the city of Ashland have been in the dark for days when these neighborhoods are no more than a few hours away.
“Everyone thinks it happened in a rural part of the county and not in the city that hasn’t had electricity for four or five days.”
Hammond says despite the long days without electricity or heat, some people just don’t want to leave their home.
“People are reluctant to leave. They want to stay in their homes … The problem is, a lot of people want to blame people. You want to blame families. But what people need to realize is that the reason is that people don’t want to leave. They have different reasons. They think the power is coming quickly. They don’t want to leave their home. They are afraid that they will lose everything, it will be broken in. “
Hammond said there could be other reasons not to leave pets behind, and unfortunately, many people don’t have families to look after them or keep them safe.
In Lexington, officials have not reported any deaths from hypothermia, but Lexington Fire Battalion chief Jordan Saas said they made calls related to carbon monoxide poisoning. He says for those who use generators, they should be kept outside and at least 20 feet from doors and windows.
It also encourages preparation, including flashlights and batteries, but also extra layers of clothing. Saas says if you stay in your house you should dress like you are outside.
Hypothermia is noticeable. You will tremble at first. Hammond says this is one of the first signs the body is trying to generate heat. As soon as the body temperature reaches 91 degrees, it stops shaking.
Other signs of hypothermia include slow breathing, confusion, difficulty speaking, and sleepiness.
To treat someone with hypothermia, take them indoors or a warm place. You should take off all wet clothing, cover the person with blankets, and also insulate the floor. Do not use direct heat or hot water on the patient. Saas says you want to slowly warm the person up and maybe start with a warm drink so they can sip on it.
In Boyd County, the National Guard has been used to go door-to-door to check on people and get them to safety when they need it.
A thermal shield is also open at the Boyd County Convention & Arts Center.
Copyright 2021 WKYT. All rights reserved.