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This story is just out of Arkansas, and has been the talk of the water cooler here in the office today. Apparently ten children, aged 2 to 7, were served windshield wiper fluid at an Arkansas daycare facility yesterday afternoon. In a classic case of carelessness, a staffer went grocery shopping, picked up windshield wiper fluid along with the groceries, then mistakenly put the bottle into the refrigerator.

Reports say it was thought to be Kool-Aid – the fluid itself is a bright blue and children regularly mistake it for fruit juice. Why was this so terrible? Windshield wiper fluid contains methanol, a highly toxic form of alcohol that can induce comas and cause blindness, even in small amounts. The children who ingested the fluid were quickly taken to the hospital, and laboratory results showed measurable levels of methanol in each of the children. Robert Wolf, one of the attorneys at our law firm, had this to say: “These types of incidents just re-emphasize the need for diligence.

An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure, and if incompetent and negligent staffers can be identified early, there is potential to have some tragedies avoided.” I think we all can agree to that. Any substance that can be mistaken for a food product, such as antifreeze or windshield wiper fluid, should be kept far from the kitchen, and far from any area where food is prepared – especially with and around children.

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