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March 25, 2019

Local Mom Pushing for New Law to Protect Kids Around Pools

By Brittany Howard

Local mom, Brittany Howard originally shared her story about Kacen’s Cause as a guest editor in the March 2019 issue of Tampa Bay Parenting Magazine.

My amazing, wild, sweet and perfect little boy, Kacen, was such a fun and energetic 2-year-old. I used to tell him he was too smart for his own good, and how that would get him in trouble one day. I never would have dreamt those silly words would turn into a nightmare that would come true so quickly and unfathomably tragic.

On September 28, 2017— the day before his third birthday, Kacen, opened a sliding-glass door and bypassed an inadequate and defective pool gate that surrounded a pool— and fatally drowned. His twin sister witnessed her brother’s tragic and final moments of life. She tried saving him by telling  the adult babysitter that Kacen was in the pool…but it was too late.

The pain of losing a child is beyond unbearable. It is deep. It is raw. It is something that could never be understood by a soul who’s never endured this kind of despair by losing a child. We all have choices in the midst of our emotions, and I decided to take this unrelenting pain and put it toward something proactive and positive. I started the non-profit organization,  K.A.C.E.N.S. C.A.U.S.E., (Keeping  Adults and  Children  Educated  Nationwide  Creating  Awareness on  Unsafe  Swimming  Environments). We  currently have a bill sponsored and filed for this legislative session called  Kacen’s Cause Act. It requires all Florida homes with pools to have two (instead of one) safety barriers installed at time of transferring home ownership. Passing this law will make Florida a safer place for our children! Florida is an exceptionally high-risk state for child drownings, and is ranked in the top 3 states with most pools.

According to the CDC (Center for Disease Control and Prevention), drowning is the  leading cause of unintentional death for children ages 1 to 4 years old in the United States. Most child drownings happen in familiar places— and statistics show that 65% of them happen in their own pools and approximately 30%  happen in pools owned by friends or relatives— like my son’s case.

Did you know that drowning is  the third leading cause of death worldwide, according to the WHO (World Health Organization)? More than half of the child drowning victims had been out of site of an adult for only 5 minutes or less.

Most children involved in a drowning incident were not expected to be near or in the pool, yet that is where they were found. Drowning is a silent death,  nothing like how the movies depict it. It is quick and quiet—There is no tell-tale warning! Most people think this would never happen to them, but  unfortunately it can happen to anyone with the blink of an eye.

The bottom line is these are our children! The next generation! Our future! We must protect them! We must  educate the adults and children of today on the current  laws, guidelines, safety measures, and drowning awareness to help save the adults and children of tomorrow.

Kacen could have been anything he wanted, but sadly he will never get the chance to follow the life path that was meant for him—It was stolen from him too soon and too quickly. From the depths of my heart and soul, I want to spread this awareness to protect, and prevent this from happening to every child who has a chance!

Kacen's Cause

2018 Drownings of Children Ages 0-6:

Hillsborough County: 11
Pasco County: 6
Pinellas: 1
Tampa Bay Region total: 18

  • Drowning kills more kids ages 1-4 than any other cause.
  • ANY child can drown. ANY time. ANY place. So EVERY one of us needs to know these important facts…and SHARE them:
  • Kids under age 1 most often drown in bathtubs, buckets & toilets
  • Also dangerous: in-ground and blow-up  pools, retention ponds, canals, spas, even a pet’s water dish
  • Small kids drown without making a sound
  • Drowning begins in as little as 20 seconds

Learn more: PreventNeedlessDeaths.com


The Children’s Board of Hillsborough County provides funding for a mobile swim lesson and water safety education program utilizing swimming pools located throughout Hillsborough County. This program will be offered at apartment complexes and neighborhood pools and are designed to develop water safety skills both in and out of the water.

Program Overview

  •         The Tampa YMCA and Brandon Sports and Aquatic Center conduct the mobile swim lessons for children ages 3 – 14 years
  • Mobile swim lesson classes will have a ratio of one instructor to six participants. Classes will meet for one week, Monday through Friday, for 45 minutes each day.
  • Water safety education will be provided for parents and/or caregivers while their children participate in the mobile swim lesson program.

Properties interested in hosting the Children’s Board Mobile Swim Lesson and Education program may contact Chris Alaynick, Director of Mobile Swim at  chris.alaynick@tampaymca.org  or by calling (813) 224-9622, ext. 1292.

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