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How things have changed since this time last year.

More people are shopping online, shops are closing for good and pubs… don’t even talk to me about pubs.

As for work, I’ve been fortunate enough to be in a role that is not shut down by a pandemic. The opposite is true. The NHS is busy at the moment and I’ve been doing my bit to try and fill in gaps when possible.

Training has stopped, started, then stopped again, and we’re not re-starting training until the new year. So if you want paediatric First Aid or First Aid at Work, we’ll see you in 2021.

I’m also lucky (or not) to be classed as a key worker, and if I’m out of work, the rest of the planet is on Job Seekers Allowance. I not only work in the Pre-hospital arena, but in education. Boy is that fun during a pandemic.

Faces. Remember when you recognised people by their face? Now we have to go on height, build, and what pattern is on their face mask. People are eating outside when the temperature is low, simply because there are people in the staffroom from another bubble. Actually, as it’s December, should that now be Bublé or bauble?

Baby it’s Cold Outside

I have also never seen so many people checking other people’s temperature…

  • before going to work
  • starting a course
  • going to the gym (when open)
  • at the start of the school day

All looking for that magic 37°C

But is that right? Should everyone be looking for 37°C?

Is your temperature 37° everywhere, and do different thermometers offer the same accuracy?

Well, no and no.

The average normal oral temperature, or one taken in the mouth is 37°C, but at the other end of that long digestion tube, the rectal temperature can be between 0.3°C and 1.0°C higher.

Ear or tympanic temperature, just like the rectal one, is usually 0.3°C and 1.0°C higher than an oral temperature.

An axillary temperature, taken in the armpit, and a forehead or temporal reading is usually lower than an oral temperature by, you guessed it, 0.3°C and 1.0°C.

So a child with a core body temperature of 37°C can have “normal” readings of between 36° and 38°C depending on which part of the anatomy the thermometer was doing its thing with. So, has a child with a temperature of 38°C got a high temperature?

Plastic strip thermometers should be used on the side of your fish tank. They have no place in a first aid kit, school door checks or anywhere else for that matter.

Hints and Tips

If you’re tasked with checking children as they come into school, here’s another thing to think of, “where has the thermometer been for the last 10 minutes?”

Has it been in a nice warm classroom, just above the radiator, where the teaching assistant sits? Has it been in direct sunlight?

If so, leave it outside to cool down to the same temperature as it’s surroundings before using it. They are actually designed to be used indoors, but then you need to wait 10 minutes for child to get to room temperature and Mum or Dad might not fancy hanging around that long.

The child and thermometer should be at the same ambient temperature. Also, watch where you aim. I’ve seen so many of you do it wrong.

It’s a Temporal Thermometer, point it at the temples.

To use their full title “Digital Infra red, non-contact temporal thermometers” measure the temperature of the blood in the temporal artery. Not the skin temperature. Hold the thermometer (and child) steady while taking temperature, and aim at the hairline, not as some would suggest, the middle of the forehead* and not at the wrist either. It should be about 2-3cms away from the skin (that’s an inch in old money) otherwise you’ll get the dreaded “LO” or “LOW” signal.

Make sure you clean the lens on the front of the thermometer occasionally as dirt on this will give a false reading as will a dirty kid 🙂

Stay Safe

*read the instructions with each instrument as they differ quite a bit.