Winter Weather Preparedness
Posted on 11/14/2023

With Thanksgiving just around the corner, winter is almost here! Winter weather has already begun with cold below-freezing temperatures in the region. Winter weather and winter storms create a higher risk of car accidents, hypothermia, frostbite, carbon monoxide poisoning, and heart attacks from overexertion. Community resources and a few key steps can help prepare you and your family for the cold weather.

Temporary Warming Centers 2023

Utilize Community Warming Centers

  • The Benton-Franklin Health District is very thankful for the community partners that have volunteered to help keep the communities safe this winter by being a Temporary Warming Center. Temporary Warming Centers are locations where any member of the community can go to warm up, during their hours of operation.
  • This year, Temporary Warming Centers have been established in Kennewick, Richland, Pasco, West Richland, Prosser, Benton City, Basin City, Connell, and Kahlotus. Specific locations can be found on the attached graphic. Call ahead to the participating locations for business hours and holiday hours.
  • For businesses that would like to be added to the Temporary Warming Center list, please contact BFHD’s Emergency Preparedness Coordinator, Joel Erickson, at [email protected]

Stay Warm and Stay Safe

  • When going outside in cold weather, limit your time outside, wear layers of warm clothing, and cover skin to help prevent frostbite and hypothermia.
frostbite or hyperthermia 

Prepare Your Home to be #WinterReady

  • Check your home’s insultation, caulking, and weather stripping and replace them when needed.
  • Install and test smoke alarms and carbon monoxide detectors with battery backups.
  • Gather supplies (food, water, medications, and anything else you may need) in case you need to stay home for several days without power.
  • Have a plan to check up on your neighbors and homebound seniors and ensure they have food and water for emergencies.
  • Shoveling snow can be a health risk, so remember to take it easy. Pace yourself & get your neighbors involved. 

Heat Your Home Properly

  • NEVER use a generator, camp stove, charcoal grill, gasoline or propane heater indoors.
  • NEVER heat a home by using the stovetop or oven.
  • Space heaters cause 1/3 of home heating fires and 4/5 home heating fires deaths. Protect your family with tips from USFA.
  • Turn space heaters off when leaving the room or going to bed.
  • Keep anything that can burn at least 3 feet from all heat sources including fireplaces, wood stoves, radiators, space heaters or candles.
  • Maintain heating equipment and chimneys by having them cleaned and inspected each year by a professional.
FreezeWinterFires Safety 

Keep Your Pets Safe

  • Bring your furry friends inside when temperatures take a dip!
  • Wipe dog’s paws after each trip outside. Ice-melting chemicals or rock salt can cause irritation, sickness or be fatal.
  • Wipe up any antifreeze spills immediately and keep it, like all household chemicals, out of reach. Antifreeze is a deadly poison, but it has a sweet taste that may attract animals and children.

Know Your Risk for Winter Storms

  • Pay attention to Winter Weather Advisories, Winter Storm Watches, and Winter Storm Warnings. To understand the difference between watches, warnings, and alerts, click here.
  • Sign up for Benton County and/or Franklin County Emergency Alerts. Our local Emergency Management agencies use a system called Code Red to inform residents of any natural disasters and significant events that may occur in the area. You can choose from several different contact methods (text, email and/or phone call) and can add multiple numbers for you and your family. This is a free service to all Benton and Franklin County residents. Sign up here:

Stay Safe on the Roads

  • Ice and snow, take it slow—slower speed, slower acceleration, slower steering, and slower braking. 
  • Prepare for winter by keeping an emergency supply kit in your car with these extras:
    • Jumper cables
    • Flares or reflective triangle
    • Ice scraper
    • Car cell phone charger
    • Cat litter or sand for better tire traction
    • Food
    • Water
    • Medications
    • Flashlights
    • Warm clothing
  • If able, stay off the roads when snow and ice is present or predicted.
  • Keep your gas tank near full to help avoid ice in the tank and fuel lines.
  • Charge your phone fully before travelling.

For more information on how to stay safe before, during, & after winter storms & extreme cold, visit: