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How do I take someone's temperature?

You can take someone's temperature quickly and easily using a thermometer. Make sure the thermometer is clean and that you read the manufacturer's instructions first.

Children

If you're taking a child's temperature, stay with them during the reading and put the thermometer away afterwards so they don't play with it.

Read more information about taking a child's temperature.

Choosing a thermometer

You can buy a thermometer from your local pharmacy. Different types are available:

  • Digital thermometers are an accurate and easy way to take a temperature from the armpit or mouth. For children under five, take their temperature from under their armpit.
  • Ear thermometers are quick and easy to use, but expensive. The reading may not be accurate if the thermometer isn't correctly placed in the ear.
  • Strip-type thermometers are not an accurate way of taking a temperature. They show the temperature of the skin, not the body.
  • Mercury-in-glass thermometers are no longer sold and should not be used. They can break, releasing small shards of glass and highly poisonous mercury.

What's a high temperature?

A fever (high temperature) is generally considered to be 38C (100.4F) or over.

If someone has a fever and you need medical advice, you can:

Further information

Page last reviewed: 29/06/2016

Next review due: 29/06/2019