The right thermometer can help limit spread of the flu

With everything going on in the world today, it can be easy to forget that flu season is right around the corner. Still, you could save yourself some headaches—and body aches—by preparing yourself.

First, some basics: get your flu shot. Although it varies from year to year, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimate the vaccine reduces your risk of catching the flu by 40% to 60%. And vaccines are safe.

Many of the other things you can do to prepare for flu season are good habits that have gained added attention during the COVID-19 pandemic:

  • Wash your hands
  • Keep surfaces clean
  • Get plenty of rest
  • Eat healthy
  • Exercise

Fight the fever

A good thermometer is an underrated tool that can help you limit the spread of the flu. If you begin having cold or flu symptoms, take your temperature. If you are running a fever, you can limit your contact with others to reduce the chances you pass it along.

The days of glass and mercury thermometers are over. If you still have one, the National Institute of Standards and Technology recommends you replace it. Contact your local trash collection program to find out how to safely dispose of it.

There are many options out there. You want to be sure you have a thermometer that is accurate, quick-reading, easy to use, and appropriate for your needs.

Pros and cons

The two main types of thermometers are digital stick thermometers and infrared thermometers, which measures heat by passing them in front of the forehead. Generally speaking, digital stick thermometers are less expensive and can be easier to use for teens and adults. They also come with rigid or flexible tips. They also can usually be used to take temperatures orally, rectally, or in the armpit, depending on which method is most appropriate. If you are opting for an inexpensive digital stick thermometer, consider buying more than one for different uses.

An infrared thermometer, or forehead thermometer, is quicker. Readings take one to three seconds as compared to 10-80 seconds for digital stick thermometers. They are also convenient to use for children who are older than three months, but may be too restless for a digital stick thermometer.

Some recommendations

Because of COVID-19, thermometers can be hard to find. But here are some models recommended by respected sources, with their comments.

From the New York Times:

From CNET:

It’s always good to have a high-quality thermometer or two, because you never know when you might need one. It’s one more weapon to use in the battle against the flu.

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