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How to Take an Accurate Temperature Reading

Instead of having your mother kiss your forehead, take a temperature reading that you can be sure is accurate.


  • Step 1: Choose a thermometer Choose an oral, arm, ear, pacifier, or rectal thermometer. Purchase a digital thermometer, as they provide the most precise reading.
  • TIP: Take your temperature when you're feeling well to get an idea of your average.
  • Step 2: Read directions Read the directions that come with the thermometer to understand how to use it.
  • Step 3: Stop eating and drinking Refrain from drinking hot or cold liquids, eating, and smoking for at least 15 to 30 minutes before taking your temperature.
  • Step 4: Turn on the thermometer Turn on the thermometer and clear it of any old readings.
  • Step 5: Use oral or arm thermometer Insert the thermometer into your mouth and press your lips together for an oral reading. For an armpit reading, remove your shirt, place the thermometer high into the center of your armpit, and press your arm tightly to your side.
  • TIP: Stay with a child when taking their temperature to make sure they stay still.
  • Step 6: Use a tympanic thermometer Clear the ear of debris for an ear thermometer, also called tympanic. Put a clean lens cover on the thermometer. Pull the outer ear back, gently insert the thermometer, and press the "on" button.
  • Step 7: Use a pacifier or rectal thermometer Use a pacifier or a rectal thermometer for babies. With the pacifier, let the baby suck on it. For rectal, lubricate the thermometer with petroleum jelly and insert a ½-inch to 1 inch into the rectal cavity.
  • Step 8: Read the thermometer Leave the thermometer in for the required amount of time. When the time is up, remove the thermometer and read it.
  • FACT: Did you know? In humans, almost 80 percent of the energy produced from eating is used to keep our body temperature constant at 98.6 degrees Fahrenheit.

You Will Need

  • A digital thermometer
  • Petroleum jelly

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