The laughter around the Renyer family pool just east of Topeka was nearly silenced last month.
Amber Renyer remembers it happened very quickly. She says the family and the neighbors were playing on the front lawn. Her older sons went inside, and she thought two-year old Hunter went with them. Turned out, he'd slipped thru a normally locked gate to the backyard pool.
Amber says she got a feeling something was wrong. She raced through the house and as she came outside to the pool, daughter Alexis was coming toward her. In her arms was Hunter, who she'd pulled out of the water.
"He was lifeless. He had no pulse," Amber recalls. "Words can't explain how horrible it is knowing your son's laying there and it's in God's hands."
Drowning is the second-leading cause of unintentional injury-related death among children ages one to fourteen. Nurse Darlene Whitlock is education coordinator for Stormont-Vail TraumaCare. She says drownings often catch people off guard.
"I think a lot of families think there'll be a lot of flailing or noise to draw attention, but often, it's a very quiet event," Whitlock says. "The child just slips under the water with little struggle."
Whitlock says parents do their best to watch children, but you almost need to be within touching distance. While a pool is obvious, be aware of hidden drowning dangers. Whitlock says a child's head is very heavy in relation to their body, so if they fall into a bucket, they can drown in as little as an inch of water. Also, a bathtub is the most common place for very young children to drown.
The Renyer's were lucky. It took several minutes for AMR and Shawnee Heights emergency crews to revive Hunter. He spent six days at KU Med, four of those in ICU. Still, he's just fine. Amber says he has no long-term affects or neurological damage.
"He's a miracle," she says.
Amber says they now double and triple check the locks on the gate and the back door -- and don't take anything for granted.
"You can be staring at them and look away and they're gone," she says. "Just keep your eyes on your kids and take every precaution."
Other water safety tips:
*In groups. take turns making sure an adult is assigned to watch the children
*Give kids swimming lessons
*Take breaks - fatigue can increase drowning risk
*Never dive in shallow water - risks head and neck injuries