I’m sure we all have one thing in common – we probably have gone through temperature screening and had our foreheads scanned with an infrared thermometer. From supermarkets to restaurants to offices, temperature screening at the door has become one method that governments and businesses are embracing, to prevent another COVID outbreak.
For most of us, we have only gone through temperature screening at the doctor’s whenever we are sick. Today, it means something very different. This is becoming a new way of life.
As COVID cases continue to fluctuate across the world, and businesses strive to reopen, temperature screening has become paramount for employees and visitors alike. No matter the industry, be it healthcare, hospitality or schools, extra precautions have been taken to prevent more COVID outbreaks. Temperature screening is usually implemented along with visitor management, whereby organisations can screen their visitors before allowing them to enter.
So, why temperature screening?
Making temperature screening mandatory is one such precaution, as organisations will be able to detect guests or employees with signs of fever. Out of all the many symptoms of COVID, why the focus on screening for fevers?
Fevers are one of the few and main detectable symptoms of COVID. While initial COVID symptoms vary, the Centers of Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) states that 83-99% of people with COVID will experience a fever. Therefore, this makes temperature screening one of the most crucial measures needed to identify people at risk of developing COVID or people infected with COVID to slow the spread of the virus.
For businesses reopened or planning to reopen, it is vital for them to carry out temperature screening for all employees and visitors before they enter the facility. While there is some scepticism about fevers being the main symptom to look out for, temperature screenings give organisations and businesses peace of mind and provide a safer environment for everyone during this pandemic.
Now that we know the importance of temperature screening, let us explore the different methods of temperature screening:
- Handheld temperature gun
- Mass temperature scanning gun
- Tablet temperature scanner
We will delve into each of their functions as well as their pros and cons.
Handheld temperature gun
Handheld temperature guns are the most common temperature screening method used by organisations.
It’s a lovely Sunday morning. Jack walks towards his favourite cafe, thinking about the usual eggs benedict he always orders for his Sunday brunch. With his favourite book in hand, he walks into the cafe, only to find himself stopped by the cafe staff.
“I’ll need to take your temperature before you enter.”
“Ah, again”. He lifts his cap and fringe with no choice, allowing the staff to take his temperature off his forehead using the temperature gun.
“36.6 degrees. This way, please!”
Sounds familiar? This temperature screening method is commonly seen at entrances of cafes and restaurants. Staff will be appointed to take everyone’s temperature at the door before entering. I don’t know about you, but every time I get screened by an employee using a handheld temperature gun, it feels almost as if I am held at gunpoint!
These handheld temperature guns measure someone’s body temperature using infrared. These devices are well equipped with an infrared sensor that quickly measures our bodily temperature without making any contact with the other person.
There are many benefits to using this temperature screening method. As mentioned in the scenario above, only one staff must be stationed at the entrance to take everyone’s temperature. Further, the device is small and lightweight, and also easy to operate. All that needs to be done is to point the temperature gun at someone’s forehead and press a button!
Also, with social distancing being strongly encouraged, this temperature screening method does just that. Staff will be standing away from whomever they are screening as the device allows for contactless temperature screening.
Got a tight budget? No problem! Handheld temperature guns are one of the cheapest temperature screening methods. With an abundance of suppliers popping up due to COVID, organisations can easily procure the handheld temperature guns online or even order from overseas suppliers who can offer a lower price.
However, one of the main flaws of this temperature screening method is its inaccuracy. The way handheld temperature guns measure body temperature is via the heat emanating from the surface of our bodies. Inaccuracies occur frequently if the temperature gun wielders do not hold them close enough to the person’s forehead.
This will result in exceptionally low-temperature readings. I have gotten some readings as low as 35 degrees, and I’m pretty sure I’m a warm-blooded creature just like you!
Another variant that affects this temperature screening method’s accuracy is the environment that the temperature is taken in. Temperature taken outdoors and indoors can vary quite a bit. Temperature for a person who has been out for a few hours is obviously much higher than someone who has been indoors. Also, the amount of heat energy coming off the human body is relatively small, making it challenging to get accurate and reliable readings in non-ideal conditions.
Contradictory to my point above on how this temperature screening method ensures staff safety as it allows for contactless screening, employees would need to go closer if they want to get a more accurate reading. This then compromises their safety, which defeats the purpose of a “non-contact” temperature screening method.
This temperature screening method might not be suitable for organisations that welcome many employees and visitors daily. Scanning temperatures using a handheld temperature gun is a manual process and can only scan one individual at a time. With a massive influx of employees or visitors, there will be a long line of people waiting to be screened.
Mass temperature scanning gun
This temperature screening method is similar to the handheld temperature gun. However, instead of being handheld, the mass temperature scanning gun is usually mounted on a stand, pointing towards the crowd traffic.
The mass temperature scanning gun is usually seen in facilities or venues with sizable human traffic, such as airports, hospitals and public events. Using similar technology as the handheld temperature gun,
Not only can this temperature screening method show temperatures in degrees, but it can also show thermal images. Thermal images show up in different colours, such as red, yellow and green. When temperatures are unusually high, the individual’s thermal image will turn red, signalling that the individual has a fever.
Unlike the handheld temperature gun, one of the main benefits of this temperature screening method is that it is able to scan the temperature of a large crowd. Organisations or venues with large groups will not have people queuing outside just to take their temperature.
With the mass temperature scanning gun being mounted on a tripod, organisations can ensure that their staff will be 100% safe. This is because they would not need to come in close contact with people to get a reading.
Like the handheld temperature gun, this temperature screening method is not accurate. Since it is mainly used to measure a huge crowd’s temperature at one go, the staff operating the device might miss out on people who are showing unusually high temperatures.
Tablet temperature scanner
The third temperature screening method is the tablet temperature scanner. As the name mentions, this usually comes in the form of a tablet with a temperature sensor module attached to it. Like the above two temperature screening methods, I’m sure you are no stranger to this as well!
The tablet temperature scanner typically requires individuals to have their face shown on the tablet screen for a temperature measurement. Sometimes, it also gives off verbal instructions when temperatures cannot be read. The tablet is smart enough to know when to get individuals to step forward or move back.
Unlike the other two temperature screening methods, once the tablet temperature scanner is set up, there is no need for an operator or staff to be manning the scanner. The entire process of temperature screening is automated, making it cost-effective and convenient for organisations to use.
Also, tablet temperature scanners allow for more accurate readings, with staff maintaining zero contact with the individual that is being screened. Accuracy of these devices can be narrowed down to ± 0.2 °C! This is a stark difference to the 35°C reading that is common when using the handheld temperature gun.
One of the main drawbacks of this temperature screening method is that it is way more expensive than the other two mentioned. A tablet temperature scanner can easily cost up to $3,000 a piece! Organisations will have to consider if they have the budget for this device.
Like the handheld temperature gun, this temperature screening method can only screen one individual at a time, making it more unsuitable and inconvenient for venues with many people.
With so many temperature screening methods out there, you must consider other factors before deciding on one. Do you have a high volume of traffic going in and out of your facility daily? Do you have enough human resources to appoint one staff in charge of it?
However, temperature screening is not the only answer to curbing the spread of COVID. Your organisation should have a more comprehensive plan to keep everyone in your facility safe. Measures such as social distancing and contact tracing should also be implemented to keep your facility as COVID-free as possible.