Non-Contact Thermometers: What You Need to Know

Everything you need to know about non-contact infrared thermometers

(RxWiki News) As businesses and individuals have begun taking extra precautions during the COVID-19 pandemic, non-contact thermometers have become more common. Here's what you need to know about these devices.

Because the coronavirus can be spread through contact with others, many health care facilities and businesses have begun screening for symptoms using methods that cause as little contact as possible.

An elevated temperature is one of the early warning signs of COVID-19 infection, so non-contact thermometers provide a safer way of screening people for possible coronavirus symptoms.

Pros and Cons of Non-Contact Infrared Thermometers

Non-contact infrared thermometers (NCITs) come with some benefits and limitations. According to the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA), these are some of the benefits of using NCITs to measure temperatures during the COVID-19 pandemic:

  • The non-contact method may decrease the likelihood that the virus will spread from person to person.
  • NCITs are easy to use and clean.
  • Temperatures are taken and displayed quickly.

On the other hand, these thermometers come with some limitations:

  • Although NCITs limit contact between people, these devices still require somewhat close contact, which means the virus can still possibly spread.
  • The temperature measurement can be affected by the placement of the device and how it is used.

How to Use an NCIT

If you have an NCIT or are planning to use one to measure your temperature, always follow the manufacturer's guidelines for your specific device.

Generally, however, you will need to use the thermometer in a space that is away from radiant heat sources and direct sunlight. To properly use an NCIT, the environmental temperature should be between 60.8 and 104 degrees Fahrenheit, according to the FDA. And the relative humidity should be below 85 percent.

The thermometer needs to adjust to the environment before use. That's why it's important to place the NCIT in the room it's going to be used in for ten to 30 minutes before use, the FDA noted.

Directly before using the NCIT, make sure the forehead is clean and dry. The person being tested should not wear headbands or other head coverings during or before testing.

Here are some general steps to take when using an NCIT:

  • Hold the sensing area perpendicular to the subject's forehead. (The person being tested must remain still during the test.)
  • Check your device's instructions to learn the proper distance to hold the NCIT from the forehead. Follow that direction exactly.
  • Keep the NCIT's sensor dry and clean, and do not touch the sensing area.

If you are concerned that you may have COVID-19 or another illness, contact your health care provider.

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Review Date: 
May 9, 2020