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2015 Cold Weather Response Plan

Smith County Fire Marshal Connie McCoy-Wasson joined Tyler Fire Department Chief Tim Johnson and Northeast Texas Public Health District CEO George Roberts November 30, 2015, to sign the first ever Cold Weather Response Plan for Tyler/Smith County. Officials from several organizations that respond to emergencies helped come up with the plan to inform the public on what to do in case of cold weather events, such as power outages, downed trees and stranded motorists.

Here is the final 2015 Cold Weather Response Plan Tyler/Smith County:




This Cold Weather Response Plan is designed to serve as a guide and to provide useful information to the public. It includes tips on avoiding exposures as well as recognizing the signs and symptoms of cold weather-related emergencies.  Additionally, it highlights resources that are available to the public during the winter months, including sheltering locations.  


The Tyler Fire Department is the lead agency for the Cold Weather Response Plan.  Agencies or citizens needing information or administrative assistance should call the City of Tyler Fire Department at 903-535-0005. After hours, or to report hazardous but non-emergency conditions, call the Tyler Police Department at 903-531-1000. For public affairs information call the Northeast Texas Public Health District at 903- 535-0020. Call 211 as an additional resource.



When exposed to cold temperatures, your body begins to lose heat faster than it can be produced. Prolonged exposure to cold will eventually use up your body’s stored energy. The result is hypothermia, or abnormally low body temperature. Body temperature that is too low affects the brain, making the victim unable to think clearly or move well. This makes hypothermia particularly dangerous because a person may not know it is happening and won’t be able to do anything about it.

Hypothermia is most likely at very cold temperatures, but it can occur even at cool temperatures (above 40°F) if a person becomes chilled from rain, sweat, or submersion in cold water.

Victims of hypothermia are often:

Elderly people with inadequate food, clothing, or heating; lower metabolic rate might prevent them from maintaining normal body temperatures when temperatures fall below 64.4°F

Babies sleeping in cold bedrooms

People who remain outdoors for long periods - the homeless, hikers, hunters, etc.

People who drink alcohol or use illicit drugs.

Mortality data for 1979 - 2002 was used to review hypothermia related deaths in the United States. During this period, a total of 16,555 deaths in the United States, an average of 689 per year (range: 417--1,021), were attributed to exposure to excessive natural cold (International Classification of Diseases, Ninth and Tenth Revision ICD-9 codes E901.0, E901.8, and E901.9; ICD-10 code X31). 


Frostbite is an injury to the body that is caused by freezing. Frostbite causes a loss of feeling and color in affected areas. It most often affects the nose, ears, cheeks, chin, fingers, or toes. Frostbite can permanently damage the body, and severe cases can lead to amputation. The risk of frostbite is increased in people with reduced blood circulation and among people who are not dressed properly for extremely cold temperatures.

At the first signs of redness or pain in any skin area, get out of the cold or protect any exposed skin - frostbite may be beginning. Any of the following signs may indicate frostbite:

a white or grayish-yellow skin area, skin that feels unusually firm or waxy, numbness

Victims are often unaware of frostbite until someone else points it out because frozen tissues are numb

If you detect symptoms of frostbite, seek medical care. Because frostbite and hypothermia both result from exposure, first determine whether there are signs of hypothermia, as described previously. Hypothermia is a more serious medical condition and requires emergency medical assistance.

If there is frostbite but no sign of hypothermia and immediate medical care is not available, proceed as follows:

Get into a warm room as soon as possible.

Unless absolutely necessary, do not walk on frostbitten feet or toes - this increases the damage.

Immerse the affected area in warm - not hot - water (the temperature should be comfortable to the touch for unaffected parts of the body).

Warm the affected area using body heat. The armpit can be used to warm frostbitten fingers.

Do not rub the frostbitten area with snow or massage it at all. This can cause more damage.

Do not use a heating pad, heat lamp, or the heat of a stove, fireplace, or radiator for warming. Affected areas are numb and can be easily burned.


Dressing properly is extremely important in preventing cold stress. The type of fabric worn also makes a difference. Cotton loses its insulation value when it becomes wet. Wool, silk and most synthetics, on the other hand, retain their insulation even when wet. The following are recommendations for working in cold environments:

Do not wear tight fitting clothing.

Wear at least three layers of loose fitting clothing. Layering provides better insulation. 

An inner layer of wool, silk or synthetic to keep moisture away from the body.

A middle layer of wool or synthetic to provide insulation even when wet.

Outer wind/rain protection layer that allows ventilation to prevent overheating.

Wear a hat or hood reduce the amount of body heat that escapes from your head.

Use a knit mask to cover the face and mouth (if needed).

Use insulated gloves to protect the hands (water resistant if necessary).

Wear insulated and waterproof boots (or other footwear).


Know the symptoms of cold stress. 

Monitor your physical condition and that of your coworkers.

Dress properly for the cold.

Stay dry. Moisture and dampness can increase the rate of heat loss from the body.

Keep extra clothing (including underwear) handy in case you get wet and need to change.

Drink warm sweetened fluids (no alcohol).

Use proper engineering controls, safe work practices, and personal protective equipment (PPE) provided by your employer.


Watch:  Issued in the 24 to 72 hour forecast time frame when the risk of a hazardous winter weather event has increased (50 to 80% certainty that warning thresholds will be met). It is intended to provide enough lead time so those who need to set their plans in motion can do so.

Wind Chill Watch:  Conditions are favorable for wind chill temperatures to meet or exceed local wind chill warning criteria in the next 24 to 72 hours. Wind chill temperatures may reach or exceed -25°F.

Winter Storm Watch:  Conditions are favorable for a winter storm event (heavy sleet, heavy snow, ice storm, heavy snow and blowing snow or a combination of events) to meet or exceed local winter storm warning criteria in the next 24 to 72 hours.  

Warning:  Issued when a hazardous winter weather event is occurring, is imminent, or has a very high probability of occurrence (generally greater than 80%). A warning is used for conditions posing a threat to life or property.  

Ice Storm Warning:  An ice storm event is expected to meet or exceed local ice storm warning criteria in the next 12 to 36 hours. Criteria for ice is 1/2 inch or more over at least 50 percent of the zone or encompassing most of the population.

Wind Chill Warning:  Wind chill temperatures are expected to meet or exceed local wind chill warning criteria in the next 12 to 36 hours. Wind chill temperatures may reach or exceed -25°F.

Advisory:  Issued when a hazardous winter weather event is occurring, is imminent, or has a very high probability of occurrence (generally greater than 80%).  An advisory is for less serious conditions that cause significant inconvenience and, if caution is not exercised, could lead to situations that may threaten life and/or property.

Winter Weather Advisory:  A winter storm event (sleet, snow, freezing rain, snow and blowing snow, or a combination of events) is expected to meet or exceed local winter weather advisory criteria in the next 12 to 36 hours but stay below warning criteria. 

Freezing Rain Advisory:  Any accumulation of freezing rain is expected in the next 12 to 36 hours (but will remain below 1/2 inch) for at least 50 percent of the zone or encompassing most of the population.

Wind Chill Advisory:  Wind chill temperatures are expected to meet or exceed local wind chill advisory criteria in the next 12 to 36 hours. Wind chill temperatures may reach or exceed -15°F.


 Individuals at risk for hypothermia can call 911 for a medical evaluation. Paramedics will respond to identify any problems and provide transport to the appropriate medical facility in the event of an emergency.


Overnight Locations:

Salvation Army - 24 hour shelter for homeless or near homeless with a capacity of 200. (903) 592-4361.  In case of declared emergency, additional space for 250 is available in the Disaster Shelter

American Red Cross - Open on demand. Depends on declared emergency. 903-581-7981 or 1-866-505-4801

Daytime Locations:

Medical Facilities including local hospitals, clinics, and stand-alone emergency rooms.

Salvation Army 633 N.  Broadway, Open 24 hours, 7 days a week, 903-592-4361

 Local Fire Stations

Broadway Square Mall and other retail outlets On City bus route

Hiway 80 Rescue Mission 601 E. Valentine 903-617-6097 or 903-216-9183 8:30am-11:30am and 1:00pm – 4:00pm

Movie Theatres

Churches Check with individual churches regarding activities and accommodations

Schools On hold at this time. Depends on a declared emergency and whether school is in session

City of Tyler Facilities:

Tyler Fire Department Various locations. Call 903-535-0005 or 911

Glass Recreation Center 501 W. 32nd St., Monday through Friday 7am-10pm, Saturday 9am-3pm, closed Sunday. Open to the public during posted hours with estimated capacity of 500 individuals.  Activities can be scheduled by calling (903) 595 7271

Tyler Public Library 201 S. College. Monday through Thursday 10am-7pm, Friday 10am-6pm, Saturday 10am-5pm, Sunday 1pm-5pm. Open to the public during posted hours with an estimated capacity of 120 individuals.  Activities can be scheduled through the library for Taylor Auditorium (capacity 100) by calling 903-593-7323

Senior Citizen Activity Center: 1915 Garden Valley Road, 903-597-0781 for additional information about services, 8am to 5pm Monday through Friday, estimated capacity 125

Rose Garden 420 Rose Park Drive, 903-531-1349, 8am-5pm. Monday through Friday with an estimated capacity 200

Arp: Arp Fire Department 12125 County Road 246S  

Bullard: Bullard Fire Department 215 S Houston St

Chapel Hill: Chapel Hill Fire Department 13801 County Road 220

 Dixie: Dixie Fire Department 584 County Road 1143

 Flint/Gresham: Flint-Gresham Fire Department 18823 FM 2493

 Jackson Heights: Jackson Heights Fire Department 2874 County Road 24  L

Lindale: Lindale Fire Department 208 E Hubbard St

Lindale Community Library, 200 E. Hubbard 903-882-1900. Capacity 200-300 

         Air conditioned and open to the public during posted hours

         Tuesday through Thursday 10am-6pm,

         Friday through Saturday 10:00am-4:00pm. Closed Sunday & Monday

Noonday: Noonday Fire Department 16619 Highway 155S

Overton: Overton Fire Department 201 E Main St 

         Overton McMillan Memorial Library, 302 E. South St, 

         903-834-6318, Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Friday 8am-5pm, 

         Thursday 10am-7pm, Friday 8am-5pm, closed Saturday & Sunday

Red Springs: Red Springs Fire Department 2381 FM 16E 

Troup: Troup Fire Department 301 W Duval St

Whitehouse: Whitehouse Fire Department 303 E Main St 

                Whitehouse Community Library - 107 Bascom Road 903-839 2949                           Whitehouse Community YMCA - 301 Terry St. 903-839 9622  

 Winona: Winona Fire Department 1111 Dallas St


Transportation for at-risk individuals enroute to heated shelters or daytime locations might be available through the following agencies. Please contact the individual agency for availability. 

Family, Friends, Neighbors

Tyler Transit

Hospital courtesy vans

Cab companies


The following should make effort to identify those who are at risk and to get them connected to transportation and heat.  Remember, many do not have telephone or internet access. 

Family, Friends, Neighbors 

Fire Departments

Police and Sherriff’s Departments (especially beat officers)

Neighborhood Crime Watch

Emergency Medical Services (EMS)

Meals on Wheels

Senior Citizen Center

Emergency Care Centers/Emergency Rooms

Hospital Social Workers

Home Health Nursing

Public Health Case Managers/Outreach Workers

Animal Control Officers

Church Volunteers

Citizen Volunteers

East Texas Council For Independent Living - particularly for disabled residents


Should a concern exist, please contact one of the following:

Tyler Police Department 903-531-1000 to request a welfare visit by a Police Officer. 

Smith County Emergency Dispatch/Fire Department and Sheriff’s Office  903-566-6600

Lindale Emergency Dispatch/Fire and Police 903-882-3313

For emergencies, call 911.


Provide information to the public about what they should do, some general information on avoiding cold weather related illness, and where to go for relief from the cold.

Northeast Texas Public Health District 903-535-0020

2-1-1 Texas 

United Way at

Salvation Army 903-592-4361

American Red Cross or

Apps available through your smartphone app store.

KTBB AM600/KDOK 92.1 FM 903-593-2519

KETK NBC56 903-581-5656

KLTV Channel 7 - 903-510-7777

KYTX CBS19 - 903-581-2211

Tyler Morning Telegraph 903-596-6265

City of Tyler Access Channel 903-533-7444 Web Site @

Northeast Texas Public Health district Web Site @

Health Care Facilities

Trinity Mother Frances 903-593-8441

ETMC -903-597-0351

UT Health Northeast at Tyler Emergency Room 903-877-7806


To report electrical / power line issues or a tree limb concerns, call Oncor at 888-313-6862 or visit the website at


To report hazardous street conditions in the City of Tyler, call 903-535-1000. In Smith County call 903-566-6600


Individuals with problems concerning payment should contact their electric company to develop a payment plan if needed. Agencies that may assist with temporary utility bill assistance include:

Greater East Texas Community Action Program (GETCAP) 903)-92-3828 or 

 800-621-5746. Also offers assistance with Water and Gas.

Salvation Army




To donate water, blankets, heaters, and transportation services, contact:

Tyler Fire Department 903-535-0005

People Attempting To Help (PATH) 903-597-4044

Salvation Army 903-592-4361 

Meals on Wheels 903)-93-7385

KLTV Channel 7 - 903-510-7777

KETK NBC56 (903) 581-5656

KYTX CBS19 903-581-2211

Tyler Fire Department 903-535-0005

Smith County Volunteer Fire Departments 903-590-2655


Emergency Rooms and EMS Providers keep records of the number of cold weather related injuries and illnesses in order to allow monitoring of the community and to permit future development of Cold Weather Response Plans. This is coordinated by Texas Department of Health EMS staff.


Users of this plan are encouraged to direct questions to the above identified agencies. Should issues not be addressed in the plan, or if questions remain unanswered, users should contact the lead agency.  




Smith County Texas
100 N. Broadway Tyler, Texas
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