While much of the East Coast was being pummeled by an enormous storm system last night, the Northern Panhandle and East Ohio escaped the level of damage suffered in coastal regions. Still, power to some areas may have been interrupted and forecasters caution rain and high wind will continue into this evening.
During the weekend, many local residents prepared for the worst, stocking up on food and water and lining up alternative sources of light and heat. That brings us to the most critical danger of bad weather - fire and fumes, not rain and wind.
When electric service is interrupted, many local residents turn to candles, old-fashioned oil lamps and propane or gasoline camping lanterns for light. Some use camping stoves indoors. For heat, some use propane or gasoline heaters the labels of which caution against indoor use. And many people in the Northern Panhandle and East Ohio have purchased gasoline generators to keep at least a few lights, along with refrigerators, operating in their homes.
If you fall into any of the above categories - and most of us do - remember the first sign of trouble from using such equipment can be a house fire or a family dead from carbon monoxide poisoning. When there's trouble with emergency lighting and heating devices, it often occurs with tragic speed.
Common sense is the best safeguard against loss of property and/or lives in an emergency situation. Don't use open-flame lighting unless absolutely necessary - certainly not around children. Don't operate generators indoors. Remember that there's a reason camping equipment is designed for use out-of-doors. If you don't have detectors to alert you to the presence of toxic fumes, get some.
Again, the monster storm appears to have only brushed our area, though there could be worse to come later today. If there's a serious danger from the weather, it lies in how we try to cope with it. Please, don't take any chances.