Get a grip on Portland’s slippery sidewalks

Stay grounded and warm this season with winter weather safety tips

Whether you’re walking to your mailbox, driving on your commute or playing outside in the elements, Portland winter months can cause a little chaos when it comes to ice-covered sidewalks and roadways. Even as fall comes to a close, piles of wet leaves, rain puddles and mud can present hazards. To help protect you and your family, the doctors and nurses at The Portland Clinic have compiled some tips to help make sure your next chilly walk or drive is safe and warm.

Dress for the part:

Before you head out, make sure you are prepared to face the ever-changing Portland weather.

  • Wear layers. It’s important to stay warm without being uncomfortably hot. Add or subtract layers when you suffer from a chill or begin to overheat.
  • Even though you’re layered up, make sure you have full mobility. Ensure clothes aren’t too big or too small for full range of motion.
  • Your footwear should be waterproof to keep socks dry and uncomfortable blisters away. To help avoid a fall, wear shoes with good tread.
  • Use gloves to keep your hands warm, rather than using your pockets while walking. You’ll need to balance yourself, grab on to something or break your fall if you slip. This is really hard to do if your hands are restricted.
  • Wear bright, reflective material and carry a flashlight when walking in the evening. Remember, the sun sets before 5 p.m. during the winter months.

Watch your step:

Ice and snow are tricky to navigate. While you may think you’re safe from their slippery ways, the wet elements can easily cause a fall.

  • Always assume a dark patch on the sidewalk or road is slippery. Black ice is a danger for both drivers and pedestrians.
  • Wet leaves are notoriously dangerous. Make sure to keep all of your walkways clear and use caution when stepping out of your car onto wet leaves.
  • Stay on the walkways — don’t try to leap or step over snowbanks or leaf piles. You never know what’s under the surface.
  • Use a handrail if available, and take short, complete steps.

Winter driving:

The road can be as dangerous as the sidewalk when dealing with ice.

  • Keep extra clothing in the car for emergencies — coats, gloves and a dry pair of boots.
  • Slow down. Visibility decreases in the evening, and it takes longer for your vehicle to stop on a slippery road.
  • Purchase studded tires or carry chains to increase traction for trips to the mountains.
  • If you find yourself in a skid, ease off the gas and steer into it, even if it may sound counterintuitive.
  • Check your car manual to see if you have antilock brakes, and understand what it takes to stop your car as quickly as possible.
  • Keep a first aid kit, flashlight, deicing spray and a scraper in your car throughout the winter.

The health and safety of the residents of Portland are always top priorities for doctors and nurses at The Portland Clinic. We encourage all of our neighbors to take their time, stay warm and enjoy the winter months in our beautiful city. A few safety checks will help reduce the risk of a fall or serious injury when the ice hits. If you have any medical concerns or would like to schedule a checkup this winter, please contact us at 503-223-3113 or visit