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How Long Does It Take To Get Frostbite?


It depends on how cold it is, how long one is exposed to the cold and what one is wearing during said exposure. Wind chill is also a critical consideration.

According to Environment Canada, risk of frostbite is fairly minor when temperatures range from -10°C to -27°C (14°F to -16.6°F) but increases considerably below that. For example, temperatures with or without wind chill that range between -28°C (-18.4°F) and -39°C (-38.2°F) can lead to frostbite IF skin is exposed for anywhere from 10 to 30 minutes. Below -40°C (-40°F) can lead to frostbite in under 10 minutes. Below -55°C (-67°F)? Two minutes or less is all is takes for tissue damage if not dry and bundled up properly.

Click here for a specific list of tips on what to wear depending on the temperature outside and what to do to prevent frostbite depending on how cold it is.

Other factors to consider include age (infants lose heat faster than adults), health (diabetics suffer from poor circulation and are thus more vulnerable), and body characteristics (someone who is tall and willowy will lose body heat faster than a short and stocky individual).

Sources: About.com First Aid, eMedecineHealth, Medscape, WebMD, Environment Canada, CBC

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