Beware of nasty tricks this Halloween

Here's how to keep your kids safe.

WASHINGTON (WUSA9) -- This Halloween, could there be some nasty tricks in your child's trick-or-treat bag?  

Dr. Cathleen Clancy with the National Capitol Poison Center urges parents to check your child's candy bags.

"I think you'd be looking for something that was inadvertently put in, like maybe a button battery that looked like a coin.  Or, some person's medication that might have been put in the bag that looked like candy.  Or, what one always worries about, someone tampering with the candy.  That's probably less common than the usual things," says Dr. Clancy.

Children can easily confuse medicine and candy.  Government statistics show nearly 60,000 children end up in the Emergency Department every year as a result of trying medicines that are mistaken for candy.  The Consumer Healthcare Products Association's Educational Foundation's Up and Away campaign urges parents to keep their children safe by properly storing medicines "Up and Away" from kids' reach.

The campaign is in partnership with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's PROTECT Initiative.


Dr. Clancy demonstrates how gummy vitamin supplements and resemble gummy treats.

Dr. Clancy says, "Multi-vitamins can have too much iron in them and other vitamins that could make children sick, especially if they go in the closet and take the whole container and even eat it."

Other tricks that could look like treats include antihistamines that look like mints, and red M&M's that resemble red acetaminophen tablets.  But not all dangers are in the bag.

"Last Halloween we got 26 calls to the poison center about glow sticks and the liquid inside the glow sticks.  And that actually is not poisonous, it can be a little irritating to the mouth.  We do get a lot of calls about it," says Dr. Clancy.

"But there are other things like the liquid that you use for torches that looks like apple juice.  You know, it's the hydrocarbon that you use to make the flame.  And so it that's ingested or drunk by a small child it can really destroy their lungs.  So it's extremely poisonous," adds Dr. Clancy.

Experts say the best advice to parents is to simply be around their children while trick-or-treating.  Dr. Clancy says, "They should be somewhere nearby.  They should check through the candy and make sure there's no loose tablets that don't match what the container says, the containers are sealed.  Just sort of common sense things.

Efforts to reduce child poisonings show an overall impact.  A fall 2015 report published in Pediatrics, the journal of the American Academy of Pediatrics, show a decline in ER visits for kids who are exposed to medications while unsupervised.  But experts say the number of poisonings are still too high, and we all need to be more vigilant to protect our children.

Dr. Clancy says, "That's really an issue for all times of year, not just Halloween."

If you think that your child has been poisoned, experts say you should take action quickly.  Call the poison help hotline at 1-800-222-1222 to reach an expert 24/7.  For more information visit www.poison.org.


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