When buying a thermometer, there are not many considerations to make even if there are lots of thermometers around. The first thing you have to consider for personal use will be who is going to use the thermometer. I’ll mention five that are used to take people’s temperatures.
- The oral thermometer is placed under the tongue. This is the most common thermometer in hospitals as it is the most accurate in detecting temperatures. The oral one can be the glass alcohol or mercury type or it can also be digital. Usually, they’re glass types as these are very durable and last a long time. They may contain mercury or alcohol. You might want to choose the alcohol one as the performance is just the same but the material is not toxic like mercury.
- The rectal thermometer is often used on little children who cannot use an oral thermometer. It may not be the most appealing thermometer because of how it is used but its reading is more accurate than that of an oral thermometer. There are glass and digital ones as well. The glass ones have shorter tips than glass oral thermometers. That’s how you can tell which thermometers go where.
- The glass thermometers have to be timed so you know when to take them out but digital ones come with alarms that sound when the reading is done. They are easier to use but not as easy to maintain because you have to replace the batteries. How often will you use the thermometer? How many people will be using the thermometer? In a clinical setting, your staff of nurses should be used to using glass thermometers and these are easier to sterilize. You can be 100% sure more germs are removed when you soak the glass thermometers in an alcohol solution whereas digital ones can’t be disinfected this way.
- If you are a very busy doctor seeing many patients, you might want to use the ear thermometer. These are mostly used by doctors doing rounds or in the emergency room. They can read temperatures fast and are becoming more and more accurate. They can indicate the onset of a fever but they’re not really the most precise temperature measuring devices. Still, they are very handy and you may want to consider them if using glass thermometers are impractical.
- When choosing from among the many selections of thermometers, always consider the reliability of the brand in digital thermometers. You will have to calibrate these digital thermometers constantly. They are best calibrated against tested glass thermometers. There really is no reason not to have a glass thermometer in a clinic even if you won’t use them on patients. They still are the most reliable.
Next to consider is the price and ease of use. Some thermometers may cause a lot more than others but don’t get swayed by cheap prices. What’s important is you can be sure the thermometer is detecting accurately.
The best ones are made by companies that specialize in manufacturing medical or scientific instruments. Other brands may work just fine but may only be giving you estimates at best.
How to Correctly Calibrate Your Thermometer before Using It?
Temperature is an important factor in making sure that food is prepared and stored safely. Food must be cooked at a certain temperature and has to be stored within a certain temperature range to prevent spoilage from the development of bacteria which leads to food poisoning.
Molds and other bacteria cultures that are part of food processing also need to be monitored by the usage of food thermometers as well. Other than the food, medicine, and other items for the consumption of humans and animals have to be stored in rooms or enclosures that maintain the desired temperature range in order to be safe for consumption.
It is, therefore, very important that measuring instruments are calibrated to make accurate detections.
There are standard protocols set in every industry when it comes to calibrating thermometers. In the food industry, people who monitor the quality are advised to do it every start of their shift.
They also have to do it again when it is exposed to shock or other incidents that make affect the reliability of the detecting device.
To calibrate a thermometer, fill a container that’s insulated with ice and add water. Stir the mixture and let it come to 0 degrees Celsius or the freezing point. It should take about five minutes to be so. Insert a bi-metallic thermometer into the center of the mixture away from the sides and the bottom of the container.
This area is preferably the center of the mixture. Keep the thermometer there until the detection stabilizes and record the temperature. Do this at least twice to verify your reading. If the temperature is not zero degrees Celsius, use pliers to calibrate the thermometer to zero degrees. There is a nut under the top of the thermometer that should be turned to do so.
For glass thermometers, the same procedure applies but you can’t calibrate these thermometers. If they cannot give you zero degrees Celsius, they will have to be replaced. The container doesn’t have to be insulated. It can be clear glass. The glass should be almost filled with ice and add about half an inch of water. Wait two to five minutes for the contents to be uniformly at a freezing point before doing it.
The other method for calibration is using the boiling point. This is not as reliable as the freezing point because the heat cannot maintain a constant temperature especially when the heated mixture is in the process of being heated.
There is no telling when the mixture is exactly at a boiling point just from visual observation. You will need a verified properly calibrated instrument to measure the reliability of the thermometer. There will also have to be desirable atmospheric conditions for accurate calibration.
The boiling point of water lowers to one degree for every 550 feet above sea level. Also, the ice point method is considered safer than the boiling point method because the steam can be harmful to your skin.
Calibration is a standard procedure and there are regulations that set the protocols that should be strictly followed. In the food industry, it is stipulated in the FDA Food Code.
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