Ready or Not #261: Do You Have a Temperature

The other day my husband wasn’t feeling very well and so he asked me to take his temperature.  Sounds easy enough – 1) pull out the electronic thermometer and click on the little button, 2) wait for it to set itself and say “Ready”, 3) stick it in his mouth and wait for the beep.  Like I said, easy enough.  Except not.

The temperature read 95 F. degrees.  What?  I don’t think so.  The average human body temperature is 98.6 degrees Fahrenheit; the average hypothermic body is 95 degrees F.  My husband was not experiencing hypothermia!  I was taking his temperature because he was feeling too hot, not too cold!

I like the K.I.S.S factor (Keep It Simple Silly).  I remember the good ol’ days when I used to whip out my trusty mercury filled glass thermometer, shake it a bit to lower the mercury and then wipe the end that was going into the mouth with a little bit of alcohol to disinfect it.  I would then insert the clean instrument into the complaining person’s mouth (they didn’t like the taste of the alcohol) and then wait – just a minute or two.

The one thing that I liked about the old fashioned glass thermometer is that I could always depend on an accurate reading.  Of course they weren’t as fancy as the newer and more technologically sophisticated electronic thermometers, but apparently they are more dependable.

The reason that I was using the electronic version was because I misplaced my old reliable glass version during a move and was FORCED to buy the battery powered one.  Why forced?  Because apparently “somebody” (I’m going to get a little sarcastic at this point) felt that it was their duty to protect me and the whole world from harm.  (I told you I was going to get sarcastic.)

The American Academy of Pediatrics and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has recommended that we no longer use these innocuous, but highly accurate and inexpensive thermometers.  It has been decided, not just by our government, but several other countries’ officials also, that the harm we could receive by even having the encapsulated and highly secure mercury in our homes was just too much of a threat to our well-being.   That is why you can’t find them over-the-counter anymore in the United States.

Granted, if you broke one of those teeny, tiny little lengths of glass and the miniscule amount of mercury was suddenly exposed, you might come to harm if you got down on your hands and knees and licked the mercury off the floor and inhaled deeply to embed it in your lungs.  BUT, I just don’t see that happening.  As a matter of fact, I am old enough to have exclusively used the glass thermometer (At one time in my life I thought that ‘wireless’ talking devices – cell phones – would forever only be used by Buck Rogers in black and white sci-fi movies.  And where is my 8-track?) and I have NEVER personally met anyone who has ever even heard of a glass thermometer being broken.

(Now this is when I really get disgusted and even more sarcastic.  Sorry, I just can’t stop it.)

After banning the much vilified glass thermometer, those who are looking out for our welfare (because we certainly aren’t capable) replaced it with the fancy schmancy BATTERY run thermometers.  What?  Now if our poor little loved one wakes up in the middle of the night burning up with a fever we can whip out our neat little electronic version to only be met with a flashing, “Replace Battery” message.  After replacing the battery (if you have a fully charged one in your prepared home) you can then send that little no-good battery on to the landfill – to finish corroding and releasing all of its toxicity in to the ground.  But the battery doesn’t have any mercury in it so it is okay.  Smart.

Don’t get me wrong; the electronic thermometers have their place, but do you really have to take our old trusty glass ones away?

To make matters even more ironic (or should I say moronic), the same people who took away our reusable, ‘can be handed down from one generation to the next’ glass thermometers, have us using only the new fluorescent bulbs.  “They” demanded we change out our non-mercury bulbs because the new ones are ‘green’ (another word people use who either have an agenda and/or don’t really know what it means to use it up, wear it out, make it do, or do without).  Oh-by-the-way, did they mention that there is mercury in them thar’ new lights that we have to use?  The same lights that will eventually burn out and need to be replaced?  The same lights that will eventually end up broken and leaking mercury into your local landfill?  Oh brother!

(Sigh)  I have got to find me another glass (mercury filled) thermometer before I overheat!

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