A new survey from Harris Interactive shows that while the vast majority of Americans think it is important to know their temperature or that of a sick family member, very few respondents – less than ten percent – know what type of thermometer gives the most accurate reading.

A full 93 percent of respondents say knowing their own temperature or someone’s who is sick is either extremely important (66 percent) or somewhat important (27 percent).  However, the majority (65 percent) say they use an oral thermometer, whileonly 32 percent believe it to be the most accurate.

Mary Pappas, the New York school nurse credited with first alerting officials about the H1N1 outbreak in 2009, says people need to be educated when it comes to selecting the right thermometer.  “The most important consideration when choosing a thermometer is accuracy, but not all thermometers are created equal.”  Pappas continues, “There have been many advances in the types of thermometers available, and the one I find the most reliable and convenient is the temporal artery thermometer.”

According to 44 peer-reviewed studies, the temporal artery thermometerhas proven to be at least as accurate as all other thermometry methods commonly used in hospitals (excluding rectal, which is the standard for taking newborns’ temperatures).  However, only nine percentof all adults surveyed, and 13% of working mothers,know that temporal artery thermometers provide the most accurate temperature reading.

Pappas, who takes thousands of student temperatures every year, says the Exergen TemporalScanner is particularly useful during cold and flu season because it gives you an accurate temperature reading in just two seconds with a simple swipe of the forehead. Because it is non-invasive, a parent can even take a sleeping child’s temperature without waking him or her.

Other notable survey findings include:

  • Women are more prepared to take temperatures than men:  of the six percent of respondents who do not have a thermometer, 63 percent are male and 37 percent are female.
  • Ten percent of respondents do not know what type of thermometer they have or do not have a thermometer.
  • Men are less inclined to use temporal artery thermometers than women: of the nine percent of respondents who were aware of the most accurate type of thermometer, 53 percent were female and 47 percent were male.