Warning over ‘unreliable’ thermometers for sale that could put your child at risk – 5 signs to watch for


EXPERTS have warned against “unreliable” thermometers for sale – and they could be putting your child at risk.

A high temperature is a symptom of a number of health problems, including Covid, and missing it could prove serious.

A child's high temperature could be caused by a number of viruses or infections. Missing it could be serious

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A child’s high temperature could be caused by a number of viruses or infections. Missing it could be seriousCredit: Alamy

Since the pandemic, there has been a surge in demand for thermometers.

According to The Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA), there has been an increase in the number of “inaccurate” infrared thermometers on the UK market.

Infrared thermometers are the gun-shaped devices that are pointed to the head to measure the skin temperature.

They’ve become popular at the entrance of places like pubs, salons and offices as an extra safety precaution.

But the MHRA now fear the devices are making their way into people’s homes and being used as a way to measure body temperature.

Temperature scanners measure heat in the skin, which is not the same as core body temperature.

It can change in response to the environment, such as warm or cold weather, therefore giving an unreliable reading.

The MHRA says: “These readings are therefore an unreliable measure for detection of Covid-19 or other diseases which may cause fever.”

What are the signs to look for?

Many devices are not approved for the UK market.

And so the MHRA says if you decide to buy one of these devices online, and are aware it is not the most reliable way to detect a high temperature, there are key signs of devices that are fradulent.

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It must have a distinct CE or UKCA mark to ensure it is fit for sale in the UK.

Graeme Tunbridge, Director of MHRA Devices division said: “People in the UK are unknowingly buying poor quality infrared thermometers which do not meet the required standards of safety and performance.

“It is important that people know what to look out for when purchasing these products, or any other medical devices online.

“You should always look for the CE or UKCA mark on any medical device – this will either be on the device or on its packaging, and that includes when you are buying these products online.”

A CE mark is spaced out like the top image, not close together like the bottom

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A CE mark is spaced out like the top image, not close together like the bottomCredit: MHRA
This is one example of an infared themometer that does not meet requirements, given by the MHRA. The CE marks is not in the right format, there is no 4-digit number, and it says "Made in China" with no details of the manufacturer or EU Authorised Representative

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This is one example of an infared themometer that does not meet requirements, given by the MHRA. The CE marks is not in the right format, there is no 4-digit number, and it says “Made in China” with no details of the manufacturer or EU Authorised RepresentativeCredit: MHRA
This packaging gives none of the five important pieces of information, such as the name and address of manufacturer

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This packaging gives none of the five important pieces of information, such as the name and address of manufacturerCredit: MHRA

When buying a infrared thermometer, look for the following on the packaging:

  1. Name and address of the manufacturer
  2. If the manufacturer is not in the EU or UK, the name and address of the European representative or UK Responsible Person
  3. The CE mark symbol with a 4-digit number, in the correct format
  4. Model number and/or name of the device
  5. Lot or batch number
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If any of this information is missing, the thermometer may not meet the legal requirements and you should not buy or use it, the MHRA says.

Warning of missing a high temperature

The MHRA said people should be aware that temperature screening is not a reliable method for detecting coronavirus infection or other “febrile illness”.

This could include a infections of the ear, lung or kidneys, stomach bugs and some more serious conditions like heat exhaustion or even tumours.

An incorrect temperature reading could be the difference between someone seeking help for themselves or their baby or child.

It could also cause someone to avoid getting a Covid test or isolating, considering the NHS lists a high temperature as one of the key signs of infection.

Fever is the body’s response to a disease or illness, causing it to rise to a range between 38°C and 41°C.

In children, if it comes with other signs or illness, particularly a rash, you should always call NHS 111 or your GP.

Medical attention is also important if your baby’s temperature is 38°C or higher and they’re under three months old, or if your baby’s temperature is 39°C or higher if they’re three to six months old.

How should you measure temperature?

Putting a thermometer into an armpit, mouth, ear or other body cavity is known to be the most accurate way to measure temperature.

The best way to measure temperature is with a digital device, the NHS says.

Avoid glass thermometers because if they break, they can release highly poisonous mercury. They aren’t used in hospitals anymore.

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