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Water-Safety Advocate: 'Flip, Float And Follow' When In Distress

(CBS) -- A warning for holiday weekend revelers planning to hit Lake Michigan: Even when the water seems calm, it can be deadly.

So says a woman who survived a horrible ordeal that claimed her boyfriend's life last year.

CBS 2's Pamela Jones reports.

"Water was going into my mouth. I was panicked and tired," Evelyn Hernandez says.

She can still feel the distress that gripped her the day she had to fight rough waters on Lake Michigan -- waters that took her boyfriend's life - and nearly killed her, too.

She and Leonel Dominguez were floating on an inflatable raft near the shore on a hot, sunny day last June in Beverly Shores, Ind.

She says suddenly, harsh wind began to blow, and the lake churned, blowing the couple and the raft a quarter of a mile out on the lake.

Dominguez -- a great swimmer -- tried to save himself and his girlfriend but disappeared.

"We were caught out there swimming and it was a lot of panic. Everything happened very quickly. I was screaming for someone to come get us," Hernandez says.

Now, she is telling her story to save others, working with David Benjamin and the Great Lakes Surf Rescue Project.

"Last Labor Day weekend there were eight Great Lakes drownings over a four-day period, and we don't want a repeat of that," Benjamin says.

He says if you're in trouble in the water, remember three words: Flip, float and follow.

"You flip over on your back and you float. You float to keep your head above water, to conserve your energy and to calm yourself down from the fear and panic of drowning. Then, follow the safest course back to shore," Benjamin says.

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