Child and dad behind the wheel of a boat
Ohio Life | Live Well Ohio

Live Well Ohio: July/August 2021

Review these boating safety tips before hitting the water this season, and get advice for helping the children in your life protect their vision. 

Water Wise
Ohio’s lakes and rivers promise plenty of summer fun. Here’s how to play it safe when you head out.  

The pandemic inspired us to get more fresh air and find ways to get active in nature. As a result, a lot of people who hadn’t been boating in a while — or sometimes ever — began to take to the water, according to Lt. Dawn Roberts of the Ohio Department of Natural Resources’ Division of Parks and Watercraft. In fact, sales of boats and marine products and services rose to a 13-year high in 2020, and first-time boat buyers increased for the first time in a decade, up 10% compared to 2019. But boating isn’t as easy as it looks, and the risks of water recreation are often overlooked. The ODNR website is a great resource, but here are a few pointers before you set out on the water.

Check Your Vessel: “At the beginning of every outing, inspect the watercraft to check what works and doesn’t work,” Roberts says. Also review ODNR requirements to make sure you have the necessary safety gear on board depending on the type of boat, boat size and body of water. 

Have Life Jackets Handy: Carry a properly fitting personal flotation device for everyone on board. “They must be U.S. Coast Guard approved, fit properly, be readily accessible and in good working condition,” Roberts says. If you’re not wearing it, make sure one of your boating buddies can get to it fast if you fall in. “You usually lose dexterity first,” Roberts adds. “So, if you aren’t already wearing a life jacket, get it on immediately.”

Dress for the Occasion: Wear clothing that doesn’t hold water and dries fast, like exercise garments or bathing suits. “We always tell people to never expect to not get wet while boating,” Roberts says. “You’re on a fluid surface, so dress like you’ll fall and be prepared.”

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Children looking at iPads on a couch (photo by iStock)

Seeing Clearly 
Set your sights on eye health by helping the children in your life protect their vision. 

Don’t look at the sun, you’ll hurt your eyes! Eat carrots, they’ll help your sight! We all remember these words of warning and advice during our early years, and ensuring a lifetime of good vision really does begin with protective steps taken while we’re children. 

“Healthy eye habits are important, and especially during the summer months, we want to help children keep their eyes safe,” says Dr. Allison Babiuch, pediatric ophthalmologist at the Cleveland Clinic’s Cole Eye Institute. “Most eye injuries occur at a young age.”

That means kids should wear protective eyewear to help shield their eyes from UV rays that can cause problems as we age, Babiuch says. That bit about carrots is true, too, the doctor adds.

“There are certain foods that are good for your eyes,” she says, pointing to the beta-carotene found in root vegetables. Citrus fruit, dark and leafy greens, and cold-water fish are good for you, too. (But we’re betting your mom probably never mentioned eating salmon for good eyesight.)

Because August is Children’s Eye Health & Safety Month, we asked Babiuch her advice for protecting and promoting eye health among the little ones in our lives.  

Smart Screen Time: While blue light has not proven to damage eyes, Babiuch says, too much screen time can cause eye strain and headaches. Limiting screen time can be difficult, especially for those who are taking classes online. But here’s a healthy habit: Follow the 20-20-20 rule. “[For] every 20 minutes of screen time, take a 20-second break where you look 20 feet away,” Babuich advises. 

Use Eye Protection: Kids enrolled in sports such as basketball, baseball and others that tend to have high rates of eye injury should wear appropriate eye protection while they play. Also, think beyond organized athletics and remember recreational activities can pose a risk as well, particularly the ones we’ve always been warned about as kids. “We see eye injuries from fireworks, from sports, Nerf guns and [paintball] guns,” Babiuch says, offering that kids should always enjoy fireworks from afar to avoid any potential injuries.  

Early Screenings: “If you can’t see well as a child, you will not develop good vision as an adult,” Babuich says, acknowledging that it’s not always possible for children to communicate that they are having a difficult time with their vision. So, get your child or grandchild screened if there is a history of eye problems in the family or if you take note of a crossing or wandering eye. “If you notice a child squinting or turning their heads, or if they are not noticing things around them like others do, it’s a good idea to get screened,” Babiuch says.

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