How to read a Tempa-Dot thermometer

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The 3M Tempa-Dot thermometer originally came out in the late 60s as a new and convenient way to take a child's temperature in just 60 seconds. It remains a school nurse standby, but some people struggle to understand the dot matrix temperature readings on the single-use, disposable thermometer.

Open the thermometer and make sure you can see all the markings on the paddle side of the thermometer. Each dot has a specific amount of a special chemical mixture that turns blue when it gets to a certain temperature.

Looking at the larger paddle part, you'll notice that it is split into two sections of little brownish dots. Each dot is a representative of a temperature degree. The columns of dots are the fractions of a degree, and the rows of dots are the degrees themselves.

When reading, look for the last blue bubble that appeared. Each of the cubes has four rows of five dots. First, read the left side of the cube, which will tell you what degree it is. The follow the column up to see what fraction of a degree it is indicating. Therefore, if the last blue dot was in the 37 row and the 0.6 column, the person has a 37.6 degrees C (99.7F) temperature.

Read this thermometer from right to left. Look at the right cube first. If all dots are filled (even a little bit), then look over to the left cube. When dots in the right cube are filled in, there is no question that the person has a fever.

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