Snow has already started affecting driving here in the Blue Water area with multiple accidents reported around the area Thursday morning, including two young drivers on their way to school and a tragic, fatal accident in Burtchville Township. Local police and first responders were kept busy with reports of black ice on the roads resulting in spinouts and crashes. As Governor Gretchen Whitmer has declared this week Winter Hazards Awareness Week, the start of the winter season is a stark reminder to be prepared and respect the elements.The Michigan State Police and the Emergency Management and Homeland Security Division are encouraging Michiganders to make winter emergency preparedness a priority. Traveling on snowy and icy roads is unavoidable in our beautiful four-season state, but you can be prepared by weatherizing your vehicles in the fall. This includes making sure your tires have sufficient tread, filling up your windshield washing fluid, and making sure you have the right amount of antifreeze running through your radiator. Getting your vehicle’s belts, hoses, and battery checked are a good idea also, as no one wants to be stuck with a dead battery on a cold morning. When road conditions are poor, police are busier. Taking the steps to be prepared can take a bit of the load off of our emergency responders. Keeping your gas tank filled is also recommended during the colder months. Although gasoline isn’t likely to freeze, there are a host of problems that can occur in your vehicle if you let the fuel level get too low. AAA recommends that drivers remember to decrease speed on snowy roads, increase following distances, slow acceleration and deceleration, know how to handle anti-lock brakes, and if possible, stay off the roads in severe weather. Driving in the winter takes a little extra work in the Blue Water Area, but your travels should be smoother if you take some time to be prepared.