Wind Chill: Information Used to Decide on Outdoor Activities

During the winter months, wind chill may affect the decision to allow students outdoors for recess or other activities. Wind chill is the cooling sensation caused by the combined effect of temperature and wind. School princpals and vice-principals consider the following guidelines when making decisions about outdoor activities during cold weather periods: 

  • 0C to -20C Wind Chill:  Care should be taken in assessing the appropriateness of sending students outside. 
  • -21C to -27C Wind Chill:  Serious consideration should be given to whether it is appropriate for students to be outside. 
  • Below -27C Wind Chill:  Students should not go outside during the school day.

In addition to the wind chill itself, other important factors to consider are:

  • Whether students are appropriately dressed (hat, mittens/gloves, scarf, warm clothing, etc.
  • How long the students will be outside
  • Activity level (heat generation)
  • Exposure to the wind (also, the sun has a small warming effect this time of year so may affect the perception of cold). 

Wind chill below – 27C puts people at an increased risk of frostbite and hypothermia, so students should not be allowed outside when wind chill reaches this level.   However, there will be many occasions when wind chill is not that low, but school administrators will consider whether or not it is appropriate to send students outside.  The Environment Canada guidelines were developed for healthy adults, so special care is taken when deciding on sending students outside during the school day.

All of these things are considered, not simply what the wind chill is registering on a given day.  It is recommended that when the wind chill is below -20C, particular care should be taken in considering the above factors and whether to allow students to go outside. Since one of the most important factors is how well students are dressed for the weather, we encourage parents/guardians to always ensure children arrive at school with appropriate clothing and outerwear for winter conditions.

The links below provide information from Environment Canada on wind chill and possible health effects.

Environment Canada Wind Chill Program: Information on wind chill, cold injuries and wind chilld hazards           

https://ec.gc.ca/meteo-weather/default.asp?lang=En&n=5FBF816A-1 

Weather Forecasts for Nova Scotia (includes wind chill for most locations):

http://www.weatheroffice.gc.ca/forecast/canada/index_e.html?id=NS

Wind Chill Calculator:

https://ec.gc.ca/meteo-weather/default.asp?lang=En&n=0F42F92D-1

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