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Top 10 Items You Should Have in Your Medicine Chest

        Health | First Aid

Thermometers allow you to check the severity of a fever.
Thermometers allow you to check the severity of a fever.
GK Hart/Vikki Hart/Stone/Getty Images

Everyone should keep a thermometer on hand to check for fevers. What you may not know is what kind of thermometer to have.

Poison control centers around the country receive 15,000 phone calls each year due to broken glass mercury thermometers [source: Health Care Without Harm]. Mercury is a neurotoxin that poisons our nervous systems, damaging the brain, spinal cord, kidneys and liver. It also affects our hearing, speech and sight, as well as how we think and feel. Human health isn't the only concern about mercury: It's also bad for the health of our environment.

If you still have one, it's time to switch. Many states offer mercury thermometer exchange programs. Get yourself a safer alternative such as a digital electronic thermometer, a glass alcohol thermometer, a glass gallium-indium-tin (galinstan) thermometer, an ear canal thermometer, or a flexible forehead thermometer.