Oilfield operations during winter in the United States can become hazardously cold. Certain locations are more hazardous than others. In South Texas, where the Eagle Ford Shale is located, temperatures on occasional years can become so cold that ice becomes present. Rarely, it may even snow in South Texas. North and West Texas, which are farther north and farther from the warm Gulf of Mexico waters, will more reliably have snow and ice during the colder parts of winter. Northern states, such as North Dakota and Pennsylvania, will have bitterly cold stretches of winter with snow and ice.

Workers from San Antonio that are accustomed to warmer southern areas can become surprised at the ferocity of the cold when moving to more northern areas. To keep them safe from cold weather illnesses, those workers need to be well supplied with cold weather clothing and training to inform them about cold weather illnesses.


When skin and tissue become too cold, that tissue can become damaged by frostbite. The cells that are too cold cannot function properly and begin to die. If the cells become cold enough for long enough then they can actually freeze and cause more damage. Severe enough frostbite damage can lead to the loss of the limb or appendage.

Frostbite typically affects body parts the farthest from the heart in contact with the cold. Fingers and toes are the first appendages to be concerned about the risk of frostbite. Ungloved hands or boots soaked with icy water will not provide sufficient protection in sub-freezing weather. If the skin becomes cold to the touch, numb, or hard then first aid for frostbite should be considered.


When the body’s core temperature begins to drop the person starts to suffer from hypothermia, or a lack of temperature. The first symptom that most people recognize is shivering as the body tries to warm itself up through physical exertion. Dropping core temperature can also decrease mental prowess and disrupt circulation. Workers suffering from hypothermia could become confused and actually begin removing clothing.

Cardiac arrest will occur if the body’s temperature drops too low. The added stress of cold temperatures can also cause heart attacks without full-blown hypothermia. This is especially true for workers who are in poor physical shape who suddenly are subjected to heavy physical labor and the stresses of a cold environment.

Recommended Training: San Antonio SafeLand

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