Cold weather illnesses can be both life threatening and permanently disabling. Hypothermia is an illness where the body’s core temperature drops. Frostbite is where the cold causes circulation to slow or stop. SafeLand training should inform workers of both of these cold weather hazards, even for South Texas workers.

Many Safeland students in San Antonio have difficulty believing that cold weather can cause such severe consequences. This is an understandable challenge for workers who have grown up in South Texas where winter temperatures are relatively mild. In San Antonio, winter temperatures only occasionally dip below freezing, which is not true of some other places.

Training Safeland workers in San Antonio on the hazards of cold weather is important because the nature of oilfield work may call them to travel to colder areas. Many San Antonio based oilfield workers are sent to Oklahoma and West Texas where the winters are colder. Further in their career, these oilfield workers may also want to take jobs in Pennsylvania, North Dakota, or even Alaska where the cold weather hazards are much more severe.

After their Safeland training, San Antonio based workers will understand how to identify the warning signs of hypothermia and how to respond.

A person with hypothermia may experience: uncontrollable shivering, loss of coordination, and a generally altered mental status. The treatment for hypothermia will include removing any wet clothing and warming the person up. Hypothermia can be fatal if allowed to progress too far, so it is important to prevent it and catch any symptoms early.

Frostbitten skin may appear pale and numb; more severe frostbite may make the affected area stiff as ice crystals form. Treatment includes either applying a dry bandage and waiting for medical to arrive or heating the area with warm water and keeping it warm if medical treatment is not available. Even moderate frostbite can be extremely painful after it is warmed up. Severe frostbite can cause the affected part to permanently lose sensation or even require amputation in some cases. Proper personal protective equipment, such as warm gloves, can protect skin from contacting hazardously cold surfaces. It is important for San Antonio based workers to understand cold weather illnesses while undertaking their Safeland training.

More information: Cold weather illnesses

Recommended Training: San Antonio SafeLand

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