Some Halloween Safety Tips

The D.C. Fire and Emergency Medical Services Department has issued a list of Halloween safety tips.

Costumes, including wigs and masks, should be flame retardant and in light colors. If they are dark, the department suggests attaching reflective tape to the costume. Use heavy fabric for homemade costumes so they won't tear and trip children. Costume-wearers should stay away from space heaters and make sure that masks can be lifted up easily to see while crossing the street.

While children are trick-or-treating, flashlights should be used instead of candles, and children should be accompanied by an adult. Before treats are eaten, parents should check to make sure that wrappers haven't been opened and no candy is unwrapped.

Suggestions for decorations include using flashlights instead of candles inside pumpkins and checking all electrical decorations for broken or fraying cords.

Child-Care Programs Offered

Day-care and after-school programs are being offered through the Childhood Services Division of the D.C. Department of Recreation and Parks for children ages 2 to 14. All programs provide safe, supervised learning and fun environments for children while meeting child-care needs of working parents.

For 2- to 5-year-olds, year-round day care and Head Start sites will operate from 7 a.m. to 6 p.m. at 21 locations. The program is nationally accredited and includes a curriculum of creative arts, math, science, social studies and language arts. Field trips, lunch and morning and afternoon snacks also are provided. Eligibility is based on family size, annual income and District residency. Part-time day care also is available at 15 locations throughout the city.

Before- and after-school care is offered at 14 locations from 7 to 9 a.m. and 3 to 6 p.m. for children ages 4 to 12. The program includes tutoring, homework assistance, recreation, creative arts, field trips and a nutritious dinner. Eligibility includes District residency, income and participation in a training program.

Also available is "Rec Prep," an after-school tutorial program at recreation centers from 3:30 to 6:30 p.m. for children ages 6 to 12. Activities include a study hour, homework assistance, skill attainment and recreational, social and life skills experiences. Field trips and snacks also are included.

Programs are free, except for "Rec Prep," which has a nominal fee. For more information and locations, call the D.C. Department of Recreation and Parks at 202-673-7660.

Essay Contest for Students

District of Columbia public school fourth-, fifth- and sixth-graders from 11 city schools are participating in the second annual "Documenting Dream Writing Week" this week. The program, sponsored by Xerox Corp., asked 1,400 students to write essays on the theme "The Dreams and Promise Within Me."

Tomorrow, a panel of city and university leaders will begin to judge the essays. First-place winners at each grade level will be awarded a $500 scholarship at an assembly at Dunbar High School at 10 a.m. Nov. 16.

Participating schools include: Birney Elementary in Southeast, Bruce-Monroe Elementary in Northwest, Burrville Elementary School in Northeast, Fletcher-Johnson Educational Center in Southeast, Garnet-Patterson Middle in Northwest, Hendley Elementary in Southeast, Martin Luther King Jr. Elementary in Southeast, Nalle Elementary in Southeast, Payne Elementary in Southeast, Shaed Elementary in Northeast and Thomson Elementary in Northwest.

All 1,400 essays will be published in a volume that will become part of the permanent collections in D.C. public school libraries.