Many people realize they should have prepared for an auto emergency after it is too late.
Driving is going to become much more treacherous, with less visibility, slippery roads and foggy windshields, now that winter is here.
There are some important items to purchase when planning for winter driving that might save people from a cold, uncomfortable experience.
Blankets, flares, cell phones, extra food and water are all good to have in the winter in case of emergencies, according to Kelly George, Kenai police youth services investigative officer.
"Anything you would need if you were stranded," he said.
Emergency road kits are a good place to start.
Although kit options are not abundant on the peninsula, there is a large selection on the Internet.
They range from the basic kit to premium kits and can cost from $20 to hundreds of dollars.
The kits contain items such as a carrying case, tire inflator and sealant, booster cables, an emergency "call tow" banner, stretch tie-down cords, road flares, hose bandage, several fuses, plastic gloves and a rain poncho.
The premium kits, in addition, might carry flashlights, batteries, a first aid kit, emergency blanket, candles, safety matches and towelettes.
People can assemble their own kits with just what they need; however, it can be more time consuming and more expensive to purchase the items individually.
Sterling CarQuest Auto Parts is expecting to carry winter emergency road kits. For now the store has emergency blankets and hand warmers.
"We have all the stuff to put one together," said Helen Ware, owner of Sterling CarQuest.
She said in some cases the kits can be cheaper, but the store has had some expensive kits as well.
Some of the items provided by an emergency kit might not be the best choice and additional purchases are sometimes recommended.
According to Larry Lawrence, manager of Soldotna NAPA Auto Parts, it is best to get a booster pack rather than jumper cables.
"They are more efficient and safer for both vehicles," he said. Being jumped deteriorates the electronics and computer in the vehicle, he said.
The roadside flares, flashlights and blankets are all important, he said.
Another helpful tip Lawrence gave was to fill the fuel tank with an injection cleaner or additive once a month, which heats the fuel injector and the fuel tank and keeps moisture down while it cleans everything.
AAA gives some advice on its Web site about keeping vehicles prepared for winter, such as: keeping battery terminals clean, making sure tires can handle winter weather, keeping windshield wipers and defrosters in good condition and washer reservoirs filled with no-freeze windshield washer fluid and making sure cooling system antifreeze is mixed with an equal portion of water.
Another helpful hint from AAA is to heat the end of a key with a match or lighter to open frozen door locks. Also, keep in mind road salt, slush and grime are hard on a car's finish. To help prevent rust and paint damage, keep cars washed and waxed.
Ware suggests if people do not know how to winterize their own vehicle they should take it to a mechanic to do it for them.
If people are winterizing their own car, she suggests they check their anti-freeze.
"People think if they checked it three years ago it is still good," she said, "but it weakens."
Also, check the engine block heater to see if it works properly.
"Prevention maintenance is what it is," she said.
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