9.3.1  How to check her temperature

If you don’t have a thermometer, put the back of one hand on the woman’s forehead, and the other on your own, or that of another healthy person (Figure 9.3). If the woman has a fever, you should be able to feel that her skin is hotter than that of a healthy person.

Shaking a thermometer
Figure 9.4  Shake the mercury to below 36°C.

If you have a glass thermometer, clean it well with soap and clean water, or alcohol. Hold the thermometer with the ‘bulb’ containing the silver mercury pointing away from your hand. Shake it with a snap of the wrist (Figure 9.4), until the top of the thin column of silver mercury falls well below ‘normal’ body temperature, i.e. less than 36°C (or 96°F).

Put the bulb end of the thermometer under the woman’s tongue or in her armpit, and leave it there for three minutes. The woman should keep her mouth closed, or her arm close to her body.

Take the thermometer out and turn it until you see the silver line. The point where the silver stops marks the temperature. There is usually a little arrow at the ‘normal’ point.

  • What temperature is showing in Figure 9.2a?

  • The mercury has risen to about 39.6°C – a high fever.

Always clean the thermometer with soap and cool water, or with alcohol, after you use it. Do not use hot water — it can break the thermometer! Mercury is a very poisonous metal. Be careful with glass thermometers, and if they break, do not pick up the mercury with your bare hands. Sweep the mercury into a jar and bury it. Do not let children play with thermometers or mercury. Get a digital thermometer if you can (Figure 9.2b).

9.3  Checking her temperature

9.3.2  What to do if the woman has a fever