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Halloween: Don’t Be Tricked By Things That Look Like Candy

Halloween is always a good time to talk about candy consumption safety. While there are plenty of misguided notions about people intentionally tampering with treats to harm our children, it’s true that accidental consumption of something that looks like candy may be quite dangerous. With eager youngsters taking the candy celebration seriously, we want to be extra careful about these small, commonplace objects that could be mistaken for sweets.

Button Batteries

They’re small, shiny, and oh-so-swallowable. Button batteries are commonly used in gadgets that require a particularly tiny power source, such as watches, calculators, remote controls, hearing aids, etc. While they don’t necessarily pose a choking risk due to their size, they are a cause for worry if swallowed. These batteries contain acid that may leak out and burn the gastrointestinal tract. Do your best to avoid leaving button batteries out where a child can mistake them for a foil-covered treat and eat them.

Woman hand holding a button battery with the forefinger isolated on a white background

Fridge Magnets

Fridge magnets come in all shapes and sizes, but it’s the ones that look edible you want to watch out for. It’s easy to unknowingly knock one off, dropping it to the floor where a crawling, curious toddler is likely to find it. If it’s colorful and bitesize, it can act as a hard candy look-alike and be easily consumed. Besides the risk of choking, swallowing magnets can also cause damage if two are swallowed and the magnets stick together through intestinal walls. It’s a good idea to stick to magnets that are too big or awkwardly shaped to swallow.

collection of magnets fridge in the form of fruit and vegetables placed on refrigerator door

Medicine and Pills

Pills are color-coded to make them easier to recognize and sort when pharmacists are filling prescriptions. Unfortunately, a lot of the time this makes them look and feel like candy, making it possible for a child to accidentally eat them. Prescription medications specifically formulated for adults contain large doses that, when ingested by a child, can result in serious health consequences. If your child consumes someone else’s Rx, be sure to call the US Poison Center at 1.800.222.1222 right away—this is an amazing resource. No issue is too minor for them to help address. Beyond that, always store medications securely, out of a child’s reach, and make sure to properly seal and label medication containers. And! Shouting this from the rooftops—don’t ever tell kids that medicine is candy—it’s so important to teach children to know the difference between the two.

Colorful pills in white bowl

Silica Packs

Silica packets are often located in various packages to absorb moisture and keep products dry. These packets contain small, shiny beads that can look like candy to young children. While silica gel is usually non-toxic, it can still cause discomfort, digestive issues, or choking hazards if swallowed. Moreover, some silica packets may contain chemicals or substances that are more harmful. To prevent accidents, it’s crucial to keep silica packets out of the reach of children and to educate them about the potential danger of mistaking them for food. Proper storage and awareness can help ensure the safety of kids around these small but potentially harmful items.

Desiccant or silica gel indifferent packaging and spread on blue background.

Adult Gummies

Recreational products containing THC, CBD, and other substances for adult use unfortunately often look very similar to harmless candy – gummies in particular. Not only do these adult treats and supplements look like candy, but they often taste like candy, too. So, if a child accidentally eats an adult gummy, they will not necessarily know that they ate something bad. Whether or not these products are legal in your state, and regardless of your personal opinion of their use, adult gummies can accidentally make their way into children’s hands. Keep an eye out for special packaging and teach your children to pay attention to labels as well. If these are something you keep for adults in your house, keep them stored only in a locked safe or cabinet. Never use these products around children or better yet, don’t keep them in your house, pockets, or purse at all.

CBD and Cannabis infused jelly sweets on grey surface with copy space

What To Do If Treats Are Tricks

  1. If your child does accidentally swallow something toxic or inedible, here are some tips and resources that may save the day:
  2. Keep the number for the US Poison Control Center (800.222.1222) saved in your phone and displayed on the fridge/bulletin board in your home. You can call this number even if you’re not sure if your child is at risk of poisoning and get free expert guidance.
  3. Take a first-time or refresher course of First Aid and CPR; this will come in handy if a family member is choking or needs resuscitation.
  4. Know where the nearest urgent care and/or emergency department is located and have a plan in place in case you have to rush a little one to seek medical care.

From strep throat to stitches, we’re here for your family – wherever you are! Click here to find a PM Pediatric Urgent Care near you. Not near to an office? Get care with telemedicine, available in 15 states.

About the Expert

headshot of Dr. Christina Johns

Dr. Christina Johns is a nationally recognized pediatric emergency physician and Senior Medical Advisor at PM Pediatric Care. An official spokesperson for the American Academy of Pediatrics, she is board-certified in both pediatrics and pediatric emergency medicine. With extensive media experience, the proud mom of two teenagers shares over 20 years of pediatric expertise with patients and families everywhere. Follow Dr. Johns for more insights on children’s health!