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Saturday, May 19, 2012

It’s Gettin Hot in Here, So Take…Your Temp

Continuing the MyTech series covering the gadgets I know and love, I thought I would take a chance to talk about a couple of cool (or hot) gadgets that make temp taking a painless (and even fun) experience. In the image above you’ll find the Exergen Temporal Artery Thermometer on the left, and the Mastercool 52225-A Infrared Thermometer on the right. Both take temps, but for vastly different reasons.

As a father of two, I have more cause to take a temperature that ever before. Not only am I concerned with fevers caused by the continuous cycle of bizarre illnesses named like they were discovered in the bowels of the Amazon rainforest (thanks day care), but I am also barraged with a litany of warnings about the temperature of drinks, food, bathwater, you name it.

It doesn’t stop there though. Kids or no kids, I get sick too and hate waiting for the minutes to tick by with a thermometer jammed in my mouth.  Also, as a homeowner of a relatively old and drafty home, I’m always on the hunt for ways to keep warm air in and cool air out in winter (and vice versa in summer). Once I’m done finding the air leaks and spending boatloads of cash fixing them, I’m generally famished and ready to cook a nice meal. What does the recipe I want to use tell me? “Please heat the pan to 100 degrees Celsius.” Oh come on! Another temp to take? What’s a gadget lover to do? Well, buy some awesome thermometers so I can have some fun doing it of course. Here's why I like these two:

Mastercool 52225-A Infrared Thermometer

This is one of my favorite gadgets and it seems to be finding daily uses now that we have kids in the house. All I have to do to take a surface temp is point it at an object, and pull the trigger. It is even shaped like a gun. The kid inside me screams with glee every time I pull the trigger and see the FREAKING LASER BEAM shoot out and tell me the temperature of anything. What’s the temp of my windows, my floor, my walls, the kids’ bathwater, the baby’s bottle, the cooking pan, my cats (oh the cats love the laser on this thing, and no, no cats were harmed in the writing of this post).

If you ever schedule a home energy audit of your home to test for air leaks, I guarantee the guy will show up with an infrared thermometer like this one. He might even show up with this very same one as it is an industrial-grade model. In fact, I’ll say now that this particular model is likely overkill for most. I chose it as it has a hard to find 30 to 1, distance to spot ratio. What that means is that from 30 feet away, I can read the temperature of a surface area as small as 1 inch. If I get closer, the area I can read with accuracy is even smaller. Many cheaper models are available with ratios more like 8 to 1 or 10 to 1. I like accuracy and overkill is a lot better than too little accuracy if you can afford it.

Also in the overkill department is the ability of this model to measure temps anywhere from -76F up to 1400F. Cheaper models I have seen are in the range of -32 to 716F. When will I ever need to measure a temp of 1400 degrees? I have no idea, but I always like my gadgets to have more power than I think I will need.

Checking the temp of a hot glass of water
One of my first uses for the Mastercool was to test the old windows in my house and find the draftiest ones. It has also been very comforting to know that my child’s bathwater is around 102 degrees so I don’t accidentally startle or even scald him and that my infant’s milk is a safe 100 degrees. Keep in mind that these are surface temps though. For even more accuracy, the Mastercool comes with a wire probe that can be inserted into liquid for a reading at the core (don’t worry, I don’t go that far with bathwater).

 The Mastercool 52225-A is available at Amazon for around $95 with shipping.

Exergen Temporal Artery Thermometer

So, you’ve just had a new baby and you’re headed home happy (and a little scared) to get started with your new life. The nurses will smile, wish you luck, and say if your baby has a fever of over 100.4 when they are less than three months old, call IMMEDIATELY. And so begins many years of worrying about your child’s temps. How should I take such a temp? Oh simple, gently insert a thermometer in the child’s rectum they answer. Wait what!? You insert a thermometer in your rectum I think to myself. That doesn’t sound like fun for either of us.

Enter the Exergen Temporal Artery Thermometer that sounds like something straight out of Star Trek. The dang thing even beeps like a tricorder when I use it. How cool is that?!  I will say up front though that if you or your children ever have a dangerously high temperature, get a second “opinion” by means of any other type of thermometer (ear, oral, or even the heinous but most accurate rectal method) and call a doctor.

None of the alternatives to the temporal artery route are easy to do when you are dealing with a sick, screaming, squirming and all around ticked off child. With the Exergen, all it takes is a quick swipe across the forehead and you’ll immediately know why I love it so much when you are instantly rewarded with an accurate and consistent reading in seconds. According to Exergen’s own literature, the thermometer is not only taking your temp in a second or two, it is actually taking it 1000 times a second and then displaying the highest recorded reading.  The next time you visit your doctor, pay attention to what they use to take your temp. I’m willing to bet they’ll be using this medical-grade version of the Exergen.

Skip to 3:48 to see the Exergen mentioned on The Today Show

One of the downsides to the Exergen is that it is dependent on ambient temperature in order to produce an accurate temp. As a result, I usually keep it in the same room to avoid inaccurate readings that could result from moving the thermometer to a room that has a large difference in ambient air temperature (it must acclimate for 30 min if you move it). Also, sweat on the forehead or even measuring the side of the head that just spent hours sleeping on a pillow can throw the measurement off. I think after while though, you will find that this is the thermometer of choice for the whole family.

The Exergen Temporal Artery Thermometer, Model TAT-2000C is available from Amazon for $30 or other retail outlets like Walgreens or Target.

Got any better temp taking gadgets? Let me know below.