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New Survey Reveals 56 Percent of Americans Don’t Know What Signals a Fever, While 29 Percent Haven’t Taken Their Temperature During the Pandemic

Braun Thermometers Announces its Inaugural National Temperature Check to Educate Consumers about Temperatures and Thermometers

Braun Thermometers, a licensed brand of Helen of Troy Limited, announced findings from a new survey, conducted by Wakefield Research, aimed to uncover misconceptions about temperatures and thermometer use. Though several studies confirm that normal adult body temperature varies from person to person, more than half (56 percent) of those surveyed in this recent survey, incorrectly believed that anything over 98.6 °F was a cause for concern.

“Because fever is often one of the first symptoms of those infected with COVID-19 who exhibit symptoms, as well as a key symptom of the flu, it’s important to understand how to take an accurate temperature reading,” said Dr. Tanya Altmann. “In partnering with Braun Thermometers to launch National Temperature Check Week, we are aiming to educate people about the importance of knowing your personal temperature range and the different factors that can impact this, to help enable them to identify a fever during this critical time.”

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Temperature checks and changing behavior

Whether dropping kids at school, returning to the office or dining out, temperature checks are now a part of our daily routines in the “new normal,” making it an ideal time for a “temperature check” on Americans’ perspective on temperature-taking. Braun Thermometers’ new survey found:

  • In terms of temperature-taking frequency, people seem to be primarily split into two very different camps.
    • Since the beginning of the COVID-19 outbreak, almost half (47 percent) of American adults are taking their temperature at least once a week.
    • However, 29 percent have not checked their temperature once since the start of the COVID-19 outbreak.
  • More than 3 in 4 (79 percent) think it’s more important to check one’s temperature now than a few months ago, especially parents whose children are potentially returning to school.
  • Nearly 9 in 10 parents (89 percent) say it’s more important to check temperatures in the current fall season, compared to 75 percent of their child-free peers.
  • Despite being more at risk, older Americans appear to not be as vigilant with their temperature. Both Millennials (64 percent) and members of Gen X (53 percent) are significantly more likely than Boomers (33 percent) to check their temperature at least weekly.

The temperature knowledge gap

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Body temperature generally varies considerably between individuals based on a number of factors, including age, gender, weight, physical activity and even time of day. Studies have also shown that the interpretation of a fever differs by site (or part of the body where temperature is checked). Yet, the survey uncovered some common gaps in knowledge on this subject:

  • Nearly 3 in 4 (72 percent) don’t know that genetics can affect their temperature, while others are unaware that food or beverage (58 percent), time of day (58 percent), or physical activity (35 percent) are also factors impacting their temperature reading.
  • Nearly 3 in 4 (74 percent) know that being sick can affect their temperature, but other than that, how their bodies vary is a mystery.
  • 73 percent of parents believe that any temperature above 98.6 °F is a problem, significantly more than the 47 percent of child-free adults who say the same.

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Consumers need more certainty: Thermometers and accuracy

In addition to confusion around basic facts of baseline temperature, Americans are skeptical about the instruments they’re using signaling a need for education about different thermometers and how to best take an accurate reading. Gender and parental status play an important role here with the survey finding:

  • Two-thirds (66 percent) of Americans are not completely confident that their thermometer is providing an accurate reading — which might be why nearly 7 in 10 (69 percent) check their temperature more than once.
  • Parents are especially likely to check temperatures more than once; 81 percent of parents say they do so to feel more certain, compared to 64 percent of those without children who say the same.
  • Parents are also significantly more likely to be checking their temperature at least once a month (75 percent, compared to 49 percent of non-parents). In fact, most parents (66 percent) are checking their own temperature weekly, much more often than the 38 percent of their child-free peers who say the same.
  • Men (41 percent) are more likely than women (28 percent) to say they are completely confident their thermometer is providing an accurate reading.

“To help improve your confidence in your temperature reading, it’s important to understand the range of different thermometers available to suit different needs. For example, in-ear thermometers are great because the ear is one of the best sites for temperature measurement given it reflects the core temperature of the body, allowing for a precise reading,” says Dr. Altmann. “On the other hand, no-touch thermometers are quick and generally comfortable for children and adults. Regardless of what type of thermometer is used, there is no arguing that these products have become a first line of defense to closely monitor our health and to protect those around us—including our loved ones and community members.”

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