MD Ambulance issued an extreme cold weather alert Thursday, warning Saskatoon residents to prepare for dropping temperatures that could reach close to -40 C over the next few nights.

“We don’t normally see these types of conditions for this length in time but you have to respect it or it can be deadly,” said Troy Davies, a spokesperson for MD Ambulance.

Environment Canada predicted this week that Friday night will be the coldest the province has seen so far this winter.

Temperatures are expected to reach -26 C overnight Thursday and plunge to -39 C Friday night. A wind chill warning issued Thursday afternoon for the entire province said temperatures in Saskatoon could feel as low as -46 C.

 “It’s going to be bloody cold,” Environment Canada meteorologist John Paul Cragg told CTV on Wednesday. “The transition from supposed winter to supposed spring is going to be, potentially, the coldest night of the season.”

MD Ambulance warned residents that frostbite on exposed skin can occur in minutes when outside in such cold temperatures.

“We are asking parents to make sure their children have proper attire if outside,” said Davies. “Pet owners should also be aware that their pets are at risk if outside for any length of time.”

Davies requested that people who may be homeless or who frequently make use of emergency shelters be aware of the forecasted temperatures. He also asked people who will be out drinking on either night to prepare safe rides home before leaving the bar.

For people driving in rural areas around Saskatoon, Davies advised that their cell phone be fully charged and that they have an emergency kit in their vehicle.

Cragg with Environment Canada said temperatures are expected to be below normal for the next three months as a jet stream continues to bring bitterly cold Arctic air to the province.

--- with files from CTV Regina