Halloween Alert: Keep Meds Out of Sight to Avoid Candy Confusion

The Up and Away campaign, in partnership with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), is reminding parents to keep their medicines up and away and out of sight, especially during the Halloween season, as many children may mistake medicines for candy.

Every year, about 60,000 young children end up in the emergency room after getting into medicines left within their reach.

As part of the ongoing campaign to prevent accidental unsupervised ingestions of medicine, this printable infographic for parents and educators to post, illustrates the visual similarities between some medicines and favorite candies and the confusion that can ensue for children.

This time of year, new kinds of candy are left out in many new places.

For a child on the lookout for a treat, it’s easy to confuse many medicines with holiday candies,” said Dan Budnitz, Director of CDC’s Medication Safety Program and manager of its PROTECT Initiative. (See tips below courtesy of Budnitz and the Huffington Post)

Key tips for keeping children safe this Halloween and year round:

Keep medicines up and away

  • Never leave medicines out on a table, counter-top, or bedside table where your children can reach them.
  • Always re-lock the safety cap and put medicines up and away immediately after use.
  • Remember that curious children act quickly. To them, the pills left on the counter for your next dose might look a lot like the candy from the trick-or-treating stash.

Teach your children

  • Talk to your children (even young children) about what medicine is and why you or another caregiver must be the one to give it to them.

Call it “medicine” (not candy)

  • Never tell your children that medicine is candy, even if they don’t like to take their medicine.

Don’t assume your friends, family, and neighbors are storing medicine properly

  • Children are natural explorers.
  • Visitors to your home might not realize the dangers of leaving medications in accessible places.
  • Ask them not to leave medicines in open suitcases and to keep pocketbooks or other bags containing medicines out of reach and sight of young children.
  • When you and your child are visiting a new place (on a play date, for example), scope it out before you let your child wander.

Be prepared

  • Save the Poison Help number in your phone: 800-222-1222.
  • Call Poison Help right away if you think your child might have gotten into medicine, even if you aren’t completely sure.

“It’s more important than ever for parents to practice safe storage and keep all medicines up and away and out of sight.”

The CDC and Up and Away urge parents to be prepared by saving the Poison Help number—1-800-222-1222—in their phones.

Additional resources on safe medicine storage are available at UpandAway.org.

(Learn More about the CDC ‘Up and Away’ Campaign, courtesy of Coffee with America and YouTube)

Up and Away and Out of Sight is an educational campaign to remind families about the importance of safe medicine storage around young children.

It is an initiative of PROTECT in partnership with the CDC and CHPA Educational Foundation.

CDC banner

The PROTECT Initiative is a collaboration among public health agencies, private sector companies, professional organizations, consumer/patient advocates, and academic experts to develop strategies to keep children safe from unintentional medication overdoses. For more information, visit: CDC.gov/MedicationSafety/PROTECT/PROTECT_Initiative.html.


The CHPA Educational Foundation is dedicated to helping consumers lead happier, healthier lives through responsible self-care.

Established in 2004, the foundation’s mission is to be the trusted source of information on the responsible use of consumer healthcare products including OTC medicines and dietary supplements. For more information, visit: CHPA.org/CHPAFoundation.aspx.