What Temperature Is Too Cold to Play Outside?

There's nothing like sledding in winter. However, children are especially vulnerable to cold. Any temperature below freezing can lead to frostbite, or other life-threatening conditions, warns the American Academy of Pediatric's website, HealthyChildren.org 12. So, it's important that parents use caution when allowing their children to play outside when the temperature drops.

Winter Temperatures

Even temperatures above freezing can cause hypothermia if you are chilled, damp, or over-exerted. For the most part, dressing warmly and limiting exposure will protect you in temperatures above and near freezing. Be sure to consider wind chill: even an actual air temperature of 40 degrees Fahrenheit (F) can feel as cold as 34 to 25 degrees F in wind speeds between 10 and 60 miles per hour, for example.

Frostbite and Frostnip

Most adults can sense when they have been outdoors too long and go inside. Children, on the other hand, are easily distracted, often more active, and lose heat more easily from their skin, putting them at a greater risk of frostnip. Common symptoms are flushing, or a numb and tingly sensation at exposed extremities: fingers, noses, ears and toes. If the skin becomes hard or waxy in texture, it may have progressed to frostbite 2. Bring the affected person inside to a warm, dry environment and call a doctor immediately. Do not attempt to use direct heat or rubbing to warm the person.

Safety Precautions

Children should always be supervised, warmly dressed, and shielded from the sun when playing outside in winter. Reflection from the snow can cause sunburns even on cloudy days. Keep children close to home in case a sudden storm crops up.