Nanny and Au Pair Health Care Series
By Anne Merchant, Author, The Nanny Textbook
It is rare these days to see a mercury thermometer used in the home. However, there are still some in use and nannies should be familiar with the correct procedure. It is essential that caregivers be completely at ease with this procedure. The local Board of Health or Visiting Nurse Association can teach caregivers the proper procedure and they are probably the best resources when childcare providers are not enrolled in a formal training program. Many homes now have modem thermometers, which are no n-evasive and digital. The following is provided for those using a mercury thermometer an d/or a simple digital thermometer.
Be certain to call the local Board of Health for instructions on how to dispose of a mercury thermometer.
When to Take Temperature
Nannies should take children's temperatures anytime they suspect a fever, when children feel warm, are fussy for no other apparent reason, or show other unusual symptoms. A reading of or above 101º Fahrenheit is considered elevated. Call the physician and continue to assess children by taking their temperature again in two hours or sooner if they appear to feel worse. Caregivers should continue to take children's temperatures every two- to four-hours as long as the temperature remains elevated.
Ways to Take Temperatures with a Mercury Thermometer
Body temperature is measured with a thermometer. Although the majority of households with small children have digital thermometers which are simple to use some households still use mercury thermometers. There are three ways to take a temperature: orally, (by mouth), auxiliary, (under the arm pit), and rectally, (by the rectum). The most accurate of these methods is rectally. Caregivers should use the rectal route for infants and children under the age of three or anytime children are uncooperative. The oral route can be used for routine readings on children who are cooperative.
Normal Body Temperature
The normal body temperature is 98.6º Fahrenheit, although some people may have slightly higher or lower temperatures. As caregivers gain experience in taking temperatures they will notice that rectal readings will be one degree higher then oral readings. This is why the rectal route is more accurate. When recording a temperature always state which method was used. For example, 98.6º P0 means 98.60 by mouth. If the reading is by rectum, it should be written as 99.60 R, (the R indicating rectal). An auxiliary reading would be written as 98.6º AX. Never take a temperature by mouth and add on another degree, simply state which method of taking temperature was used.
Reporting to the Physician or Parent
Any time children's temperatures reach or exceed 101º Fahrenheit it should be reported immediately to the pediatrician. High temperatures may indicate the beginning of a serious infection requiring medical attention. Many households now have digital thermometers which came with specific instructions.
Tomorrow: Procedures for taking children’s temperatures.