The extreme cold warning parked over southwestern Saskatchewan is no joke according to health officials.

Swift Current's forecast is calling for temperatures to stay below minus -30 C mark basically until Monday and exposure to those types of conditions can cause frostbite within minutes.

Dr. David Torr, the medical health officer for the southwest (four through six networks) and area department lead for public health and preventative medicine for integrated rural with the SHA, said the majority of frostbite occurs on extremities.

"If they're not protected, much higher risk, the longer the exposure, much higher risk, the colder the temperature, much higher risk," he said.

Normally frostbite will leave its mark on fingers, toes, hands, and feet, however, Torr mentioned two other areas are often susceptible, ears and nose.

"The worst case you could lose fingers, toes, or an extremity," he said. "But if you don't it takes a long time to get that recovery and circulation back. It can stretch out for quite a while."

The cold weather can be detrimental to humans in a number of ways beyond frostbite. Chest exposure can increase the chances of picking up a viral infection. Extreme causes can lead to loss of consciousness, hypothermia, or a comma.

And while motors and passengers may think their vehicles will protect them from the cold, there's the odd time it won't, and Torr wants the public to be ready.

"People who are travelling, make sure you're dressed up properly, even though you're inside a vehicle that is heated because you never know, something could happen between point a and point b," he said. "Then the vehicle is no longer heating, and you're exposed to cold."

He recommended winter package inside vehicles include a blanket, candle, shovel, and a chocolate bar.