Avoid 'candy confusion,' keep kids away from look-alike drugs

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For the kids, Halloween is all about the costumes and the candy. But, health experts warn about the dangers of those sweet treats. (WPVI)

For the kids, Halloween is all about the costumes and the candy.

But, health experts warn about the dangers of those sweet treats.

Halloween is fantasy time, when ordinary girls and boys turn into make-believe princesses, goblins and monsters.

For poison control centers, however, it can be a time for real fright.

"So you tell me which is which in these boxes?" says Blair Thornley, Pharm. D. of Children's Hospital Poison Control Center.

She says it's very easy to confuse serious medications with innocent candy.

"This is the candy, and this is the medication," she says, tilting the almost-identical boxes.

And the Consumer Healthcare Products Association Educational Foundation says there are more look-a-likes than you might think.

The CHPA and the Centers for Disease Control have a campaign Up and Away and Out of Sight to inform families of the risks, and remind them how to safely store medicines.

The foundation says any medicine or vitamin can be dangerous if taken in the wrong way or by the wrong person, even ones purchased over-the-counter.

For example:

Tegretol, a seizure medication, is almost identical to Smarties.

Some iron pills can be confused with green M&M's.

And Tylenol looks a lot like Tic-Tacs or Good-N-Plenty.

Every year, about 60,000 children end up in the emergency room from ingesting drugs.

It's usually because the medications are left within their reach.

Thornley says pill-minder boxes, which don't have child-safe caps, and are often in grandparents' homes, are especially vulnerable.

"They leave it on the kitchen table or a counter, because that's much better, for them, that's a reminder to take every day," says Dr. Thornley.

In fact, the CHPA and CDC say one in five grandparents also store their over-the-counter medications in easy-access places.

Thornley says kid-friendly flavors in some medications can also tempt children.

To prevent any 'candy confusion,' always keep drugs up and away - on a high shelf, or better yet, out of sight.in a cabinet.

And if you think a child has taken something they shouldn't, call poison control at 1-800-222-1222 immediately.
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healthhealthcheckhalloweenpoison
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