It's the furthest thing from our minds these summer months, but the cost of home heating oil has risen to alarming prices in recent weeks---30-day futures are now trading at nearly $4US per gallon, about twice what it was at this time last year. (Consumers will have to additionally pay for distribution costs and dealer profit.) Unless the market crashes before winter (which seems highly unlikely), we're going to see enormous suffering. The situation is already at crisis level---at least one local oil company is selling heating oil at gas stations so people who can't afford the $100 minimum delivery charge can purchase five or 10 litres to get through the coldest nights. At double the price, we're entering into the territory of people freezing to death, of frostbitten children showing up at emergency rooms.To avoid the worst, we need to act now. It clearly won't be enough, as we've done in past years, to toss a few dollars at the Salvation Army's relief program; we'll need money allocated not just to helping people pay fuel bills but also to secure supply, lest prices soar even higher. Local governments, including the HRM, should call emergency meetings to find the best way to prepare and to prod the provincial government into action. And Rodney MacDonald should call the legislature back into session to find the many millions of dollars necessary for the task.