How to Read a Tempa-Dot Thermometer

Tempa-Dot thermometers
Tempa-Dot thermometers (Image:

The Tempa-Dot thermometer originally came out in the late 60s as a new and convenient way to take a child's temperature in just 60 seconds. It remains a school nurse standby, but some people struggle to understand the temperature readings. Keep reading to learn how.

Open the thermometer and make sure you can see all the markings on the paddle side of the thermometer. Each dot has a specific amount of a special chemical mixture that turns blue when it gets to certain temperature.

Looking at the larger paddle part, you'll notice that it is split into two sections of little brownish dots. Each dot is a representative of 0.2 degrees F. The columns of dots are the fractions of a degree, and the rows of dots are the degrees themselves. The grouping on the left is the 100s group. This would be 100, 101, 102, 103 and 104 degrees. The cube of brownish squares on the right is the lower-than-100 group. These would be 96, 97, 98 and 99 degrees.

When reading, look for the last blue bubble that appeared. Each of the cubes has four rows of five dots. First, read the left side of the cube, which will tell you what degree it is. The follow the column up to see what fraction of a degree it is indicating (0.0, 0.2, 0.4, 0.6, 0.8). Therefore, if the last blue dot was in the 98 row and the 0.6 column, the person has a 98.6 degree temperature.

Read this thermometer from right to left. Look at the right cube first. If all dots are filled (even a little bit), then look over to the left cube. When dots in the right cube are filled in, there is no question that the person has a fever.

Tips & Warnings

  • Do not worry about bubbles that are not fully colored. If it went to the next stage, the heat is moving faster than the chemical. Read the cube just like a graph.
  • Do not eat or swallow the chemical on the strip.

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