We are braced for a heatwave - or, depending on your point of view, we are primed for a few days of fun in the water.
Either way, the Bureau of Meteorology is forecasting high temperatures over the long Australia Day weekend.
What the Bureau defines as an "extreme heatwave" is expected in the Canberra region, extending to the south coast.
In Canberra, it's expected to be 37 degrees on Saturday and 38 on Sunday and Monday. The south coast is expected to reach 39 or 40 degrees on Monday.
An extreme heatwave?
The Bureau defines a heatwave as "when the maximum and the minimum temperatures are unusually hot over a three-day period at a location. This is considered in relation to the local climate and past weather at the location".
It's not just about the heat of the day. A heatwave will have hot nights, too.
They divide them into three types: "extreme", "severe" and "low intensity".
The one we are heading into is "extreme" which means it is a "problem for people who don't take precautions to keep cool-even for people who are healthy. People who work or exercise outdoors are also at greater risk of being affected."
Heatwaves can kill
An academic study of deaths from natural causes in modern times puts heatwaves as the top cause of death, with the exception of epidemics.
A bunch of researchers from the Bushfire and Natural Hazards Cooperative Research Centre in Melbourne reckoned there were at least 4555 deaths from extreme heat between 1900 and 2011.
Heat stroke can trigger seizures, convulsions or a coma. Without treatment, death may follow.Aimee Cunningham
Next on the list was flood with 1221 and then cyclones (1285). Bushfires killed 866 people.
The big day for heatwave deaths is the one after Australia Day (next Wednesday this year). The researchers ay it "stands out historically as the date with the most heat associated deaths.
"Many people, in celebrating this holiday with barbeques and picnics outdoors, are subject to a significant amount of heat exposure and dehydration, the latter exacerbated by consumption of alcohol."
How does heat kill?
Our bodies have mechanisms to dope with heat. We sweat, for example, and that cools the skin. But when heat is too high, the mechanisms get over-whelmed.
"If the body has to keep dealing with heat without a break, it gets worn out," the medical writer, Aimee Cunningham, says.
"People can experience heat exhaustion, which causes weakness, dizziness and nausea. If a person still doesn't cool off, heat stroke may occur. This signals that the body's ability to regulate heat has broken down. This can allow core body temperature to climb as high as 40 degrees Celsius.
"Heat stroke can trigger seizures, convulsions or a coma. Without treatment, death may follow."
What should you do?
The Bureau advises:
- Drink plenty of water even if you don't feel thirsty
- Never leave children, older people or pets in cars
- Stay somewhere cool, including getting under a cold shower
- Plan activities for the cool part of the day
- Check in on others
Heat stroke and heat exhaustion
According to the Australian Red Cross, "heat exhaustion happens when someone becomes dehydrated due to fluid loss from a hot environment and/or excessive physical activity."
"Heat stroke is a life-threatening emergency and can cause a person to collapse or fall unconscious. Heat stroke is more serious and means the body is no longer able to regulate its temperature by cooling the skin's surface by sweating. The internal body temperature rises, and organ damage can occur."
Victims should be kept cool and given water if possible. If the condition is serious, call an ambulance.