Geriatrician, Hospitalist, Patient Advocate, Healthcare Educator

How Long Should You Stay Out in the Cold?

Photo by Filip Bunkens

With it being so cold out there, it is important to not stay out for longer than you safely should to prevent hypothermia and/or frostbite.

You should be looking at the temperature as well as the wind chill factor before leaving for outdoor activities. If the temperature is 26°F and wind chill is 15°F, that means exposed skin will freeze as if it is 15°F outside.

  • If wind chill is above 32°F, it is safe to be outside
  • If wind chill is between 13-31°F, you can be outside for about 20-30 minutes, but then need to have indoor breaks
  • For wind chill less than 13°F, all outdoor activities should be moved indoors as there is a high risk of frostbite

Of note: infants, toddlers, and the elderly are more susceptible to the cold so need to be more careful. When going out in the cold, make sure to dress in layers and don’t forget socks, gloves, hats, and scarves along with your winter coat!