It is the worst thing that can happen on a day at the lake, or just enjoying your afternoon in your back yard pool -- a drowning.

If you see someone in a desperate situation in a pool or lake, there are certain steps you should take.

“We should reach, we should throw, but don't go," said Gretchen Roufs, a Red Cross Water Safety Instructor.

The first step is to reach out from the bank, or on the side of the pool, with a life-saving device like a floating tube or pool hook.

If you can reach the person, the second step is to throw that safety device.

The last thing you want to do is go in after the person in the pool or in the lake.

“If you try to rescue them, guess what, there will be two of you in trouble,"  Roufs said.

If a person is in distress and panics, as you get closer they will grab a hold of you, and you both could be in serious danger.

If you insist on going towards the victim, you should only get close enough to throw them a life line.

Remember, reach, throw, don’t go, and always use “really good judgment," Roufs said.

Here are other tips for your family, especially if you have kids in and around a pool or lake:

  • Kids should always have an adult assigned to each of them when near water
  • Parents should always stay within an arms reach of the child
  • Consider having your child take swimming lessons
  • Adults can take swimming lessons as well -- it's never too late
  • If swimming in an area without a life guard, always use Coast Guard flotation device.

For a list of recent stories David Sears has done, click here.