Mercury Thermometer : What is it?
Mercury thermometers measure body temperature to detect fever and similar body conditions. They consist of a glass tube containing a small amount of mercury, which collects in a silver bulb at the bottom. The tube is calibrated with a temperature scale. When exposed to heat, the mercury expands and rises up the tube, stopping at the corresponding point on the scale. Most mercury thermometers have marks on the 37.5oC (98.6oF) points to indicate normal body temperature.
Kinds of Mercury Thermometers include the following:
These mercury thermometers record temperature from the patient's mouth or rectum. They contain about 0.61 grams of mercury. They are used to detect fever in babies, where oral and rectal temperatures are usually higher than normal.
Basal thermometers are placed under the patient's armpits. They are used to measure body temperature in adults. They contain approximately 2.25 grams of mercury. This is to m them more heat-sensitive, since adult body temperatures rise slower than baby temperatures.
Readability: Choose a mercury thermometer with clear markings and large, easy-to-read figures. Make sure the tip of the mercury is clearly visible within the bulb. Place the thermometer against a light surface to increase contrast. Look for thick tubes with larger type if you have poor vision.
Accuracy: Make sure your mercury thermometer makes precise, reliable measurements. Make sure the calibrations are evenly spaced to prevent erroneous readouts. Look for one with finer calibrations to measure fractional differences.
Safety InformationMercury is highly poisonous and can have serious side-effects when ingested. Most hospitals recommend using mercury-free thermometers to prevent poisoning. Take the following safety precautions to ensure safe use of your mercury thermometer.
Keep the thermometer in a soft case to prevent the glass tube from breaking. Babies can swallow small amounts of mercury from leaks. Check the bulb for any cracks before taking oral temperatures. Take rectal temperatures whenever possible. Do not dispose of mercury thermometers in the trash. Mercury can leak out and contaminate the environment. You can hand them over to pharmacies or hospitals for proper disposal.
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