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Frostbite Risk Broken Down by Temperature

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The following guidelines, as put forth by Environment Canada, can give you a better idea of the level of frostbite risk expected depending on the temperature, whether the wind chill is factored in or not.

    0°C to -9°C (32°F to 15.8°F): Low Frostbite Risk
    There might be a slight increase in discomfort from prolonged exposure to cold. Otherwise, not much to worry about.
    Advice:
  • dress for the weather
  • dress warm
  • stay dry

    -10°C to -27°C (14°F to -16.6°F): Low Frostbite Risk
    Not the most comfortable temperatures, there is a risk of hypothermia with prolonged exposure to this temperature range without adequate protection.
    Advice:
  • dress for the weather, preferably in layers: consider at least three layers with the third being a wind-resistant coat
  • cover exposed skin a hat/earmuffs/tuque, gloves, scarf/neck tube and insulated, water-resistant boots, all a MUST at this temperature range
  • be active, keep in movement
  • stay dry

    -28°C to -39°C (-18.4°F to -38.2°F): Risk of Frostbite in 10 to 30 Minutes
    Adequate protection from the elements is absolutely essential at this point as the risk of frostbite as well as hypothermia are significantly heightened as soon as temperatures, with or without wind chill, dip below -27°C (-16.6°F). It's highly recommended that outdoor activities be engaged in at least pairs if not groups in order to check each other's faces for possible signs of frostbite.
    Advice:
  • dress for the weather, preferably in layers: consider at least three layers with the third being a wind-resistant coat
  • cover exposed skin with a hat/earmuffs/tuque, gloves, scarf/neck tube and insulated, water-resistant boots, all a MUST at this temperature range
  • be active, keep in movement
  • keep an eye out for whiteness or numbness in the skin,
  • stay dry

    -40°C to -47°C (-40°F to -52.6°F): High Risk of Frostbite of Exposed Skin in 5 to 10 Minutes (Even Less if Winds Are Sustained Over 50km/h (31 miles/h)
    Adequate protection from the elements is absolutely essential at this point as the risk of frostbite as well as hypothermia are imminent if exposure is prolonged without adequate protection and shelter. Outdoor activities should be engaged in at least pairs if not groups in order to check each other's faces for possible signs of frostbite.
    Advice:
  • dress for the weather, preferably in layers: consider at least three layers with the third being a wind-resistant coat
  • cover exposed skin with a hat/earmuffs/tuque, gloves, scarf/neck tube/face mask and insulated, water-resistant boots, all a MUST at this temperature range
  • be active, keep in movement
  • periodically check for whiteness or numbness in the skin
  • stay dry

    -48°C to -54°C (-54.4°F to -65.2°F): Very High Risk of Frostbite of Exposed Skin in 2 to 5 Minutes (Even Less if Winds Are Sustained Over 50km/h (31 miles/h)
    Adequate protection from the elements is absolutely essential at this point as the frostbite as well as hypothermia are virtually guaranteed if exposure is prolonged without adequate protection and shelter. Outdoor activities should be engaged in at least pairs if not groups in order to check each other's faces for possible signs of frostbite.
    Advice:
  • dress for the weather, preferably in layers: consider at least three layers with the third being a wind-resistant coat
  • cover ALL exposed skin -- NO EXCEPTIONS -- with a hat/earmuffs/tuque, gloves, scarf/neck tube/face mask and insulated, water-resistant boots, all a MUST at this temperature range
  • be active, keep in movement
  • check frequently for whiteness or numbness in the skin
  • stay dry
  • be ready to cut short outdoor activities or even cancel them

    -55°C or colder (-67°F or colder): Extremely High Risk of Frostbite of Exposed Skin in 2 Minutes or Less
    Stay indoors. Outdoor conditions are too hazardous for any kind of activity.

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