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Where We Live: Know the rules of the water

Earlier this week, my husband and I decided to take our two children - ages 8 and 3 - out for an evening on Beltzville Lake.

I packed the meal, while Bob prepped our fishing boat and rods and hooked everything up to our vehicle.

It was a beautiful evening and the picnic on the water was lovely.

Once dinner was over, we got the rods out and began to fish.

For an 8-year-old, the lure of fishing only lasts so long, especially when the fish aren’t biting.

So Logan began looking around the boat, trying to spy the sunnies that swam near the surface; while Jordan picked through the cup of worms we brought to use as bait.

After a few casts, my reel started wobbling and we realized I had a fish.

It was just a small sunny, but it was still exciting for the kids to see as I brought it in and removed the hook from its mouth.

But as I turned to show Jordan the fish, we heard a “splash.”

Logan had fallen overboard - the first person to ever fall off “Boatie” since Bob’s dad bought the boat years ago.

Thankfully, he had his life jacket on, but he did one potentially fatal flaw - he panicked.

Within a few seconds, I had his arm in one hand and the sunny in another before tossing the fish back into the lake.

We pulled our son back into the boat and as he sat there scared at what could have happened - and then angry that he was soaked from head to toe - I realized just how lucky we were that we had invested in the new, larger life jacket for him this spring; but at the same time, knew that things could have been drastically different if he continued to panic like he had done after the fall and no one was there to help him. It really was hard to pull him back in, even with two of us, and we realized that it wouldn’t be so easy if you were alone and had fallen off the boat into the water.

Here are some tips from the American Red Cross that can help save a child, or even an adult’s life, when enjoying time on the water.

• Small children and weak swimmers should always wear a life jacket when in the water, no matter if they are in a pool, lake, ocean or water park or on a boat or other water-based sport.

• Make sure you have the right type of life jacket for the water activity and it is U.S. Coast Guard-approved. Life jackets have weight and size limits printed on the inside of the jacket.

• Discard any life jacket with torn fabric or loose straps that can’t be fully tightened anymore.

• Secure all straps and make sure they are snug fitting.

• If you fall into the water, don’t panic. The key is to stay calm. The life vest will help keep your head out of the water. If need be, lay on your back and float.