Reach - Throw - Go
Reach - First attempt at a rescue should always be to not go into the water yourself. Many incidents occur within three to 15 metres of safety. If you're on a boat or land, always try to reach the victim from there before trying anything else.
Throw - If they are too far to reach, the next attempt should be to throw some sort of flotation device to the person in distress; at the least it will keep them afloat while they struggle. If it is a rope or a foam noodle, you can also use it to pull them in.
Row - Use a boat to go out and reach the victim. Be sure not to hit them.
Go - You should only jump into the water if neither of the above methods work. It's dangerous because when a person is drowning, they try to grab anything or everything, including the person who is trying to help. Be careful not to let them take you down as they go under. Tow them away by grabbing clothes, hair, etc.
The ABCDE's of child water safety
Active supervision: "If you're not within arm's reach, you've gone too far." Designate at least one adult to be the "parent lifeguard" who is doing nothing other than watching the kids in the water. Whether at the pool, beach or hot tub, they can get into trouble very quickly and can slip under the water very quietly without the expected shouting and waving.
Barriers: The majority of backyard pool incidents involve a child getting into a pool area when they shouldn't. The ideal pool barrier is four-sided (fourth side not being an entry to the house), has a self-closing, self-latching gate and is at least 1.2 m (4 feet) high. Toys should be cleared from the pool when not in use to avoid them attracting a child to enter.
Classes: Adults responsible for supervising children around water should have some basic knowledge of what to do when things go wrong. Take a CPR or first aid course, or even better learn water rescue through a lifesaving course at your local pool. Also, swimming and water safety classes for children, such as Swim to Survive, are critical to helping ensure their survival from an unexpected fall into water.
Devices: A child wearing a Personal Flotation Device (PFD) is much safer around the water or in the boat. We never expect an incident to occur, but when it does, prevention is the key. That also applies to having lifesaving devices available. Whether it's a life ring, reaching pole or mobile phone at the backyard pool or being prepared with some form of flotation device to help rescue someone else without putting yourself at risk, thinking ahead is part of prevention.
Environment: Know the water conditions and weather before you go out on the water. Unknown waters present dangers such as fast current, undertows, sudden drop-offs and submerged hazards such as trees and rocks. Water flow can change unexpectedly.
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