Following on from a blog I wrote a few weeks ago regarding the misuse of an infra-red ear thermometer I thought I would pursue the subject of ‘right tool for the job’ in a little more detail.
As you may or may not know my ‘proper’ job is as a purveyor of temperature recording equipment (what a coincidence!) to both business and home users.
In my daily tiptoe through the wacky world of online retail I regularly get asked if a particular thermometer can be used for a purpose it was never intended, designed or more importantly, suitable for.
I was contacted recently by a manager of a dental surgery who asked if a wall mounted workplace thermometer would be suitable for checking water temperature.
I was tempted to ask if this particular dental surgery was at the forefront of some sort of cutting edge underwater dental technique but managed to resist and instead steered the bewildered customer (in my usual professional manner) towards a more suitable instrument.
Incidentally (pardon the pun) I would imagine that using the underwater technique could save dentists a fortune on mouth wash!
Out of interest, we would usually recommend a fast response, waterproof probe type thermometer for checking running water and either a floating bath thermometer or bath scoop thermometer (with built in water scoop to collect a sample of water to monitor) for standing water.
Another 50p for the Meter?
I also had an enquiry a few weeks ago from a procurement manager for a large chain of nursing homes, asking if our fridge / freezer dial thermometers would be suitable for use in resident’s rooms. A cynical and suspicious person (such as my good self), may well be suspecting foul play at this point. The thermometer in question does record temps right down to -40°C. Granted they don’t actually have a ‘rigor mortis zone’, but one could be forgiven for wondering why someone needed a room thermometer that recorded such extreme temperatures.
To my great relief it turned out to be merely a case of ignorance and our customer was thrilled to find out that we supplied a hypothermia thermometer complete with coloured zones displaying safe and unsafe room temperatures. Another satisfied customer!
No fun being a dog?
Finally I was contacted some time ago buy a guy who asked if our beer brewing thermometer would be suitable as a rectal thermometer for his dog.
This is not quite as bizarre as it first seems, as this thermometer is a traditional spirit filled glass thermometer similar to the ones vets use, so in theory it would be OK, if used carefully (as these are 12” in length!). Although not an expert in home brewing myself I did suggest that the use of a good old barrel or vat may have been more appropriate method of fermenting his hops!
The Moral of this Story…
The moral of the blog this time is that although many thermometers can be used for applications other than the one they were designed for, it is generally best to use an instrument that is most suitable for the task in hand. There is little point in monitoring the temperature of something if the readings cannot be relied on to be accurate.
If in doubt, ask advice – please!