TORONTO, Ont. – This is the first official weekend of summer, and with hot and sunny weather in the forecast, it’s the perfect time for a swim.

Although the water can be a great place to cool down, it can also be deadly, with nearly 500 Canadians losing their life in water-related incidents every year.

While teaching water safety can be an extremely effective technique, safety officials stress actually teaching people to swim can mean the difference between life and death.

Barbara Byers, from the Life Saving Society of Canada, says drowning is the second-leading cause of preventable death for children under the age of 10, and the third-leading cause of preventable death for adults.

“Swimming is a life skill, there’s so much water in Canada, more fresh water than any other country in the world, it’s really important in Canada that we all know how to swim and all know the basics,” Byers said.

“The great thing about swimming lessons is, if you learn to swim when you’re young, those skills stay with you for the rest of your life.”

It is also important to be aware of your level of swimming and to act accordingly, according to Byers.

“We need to make sure we don’t get in too deep, our children and ourselves, make sure we’re well aware of our own abilities,” Byers said.

To ensure safety for kids, Byers said it’s also important to restrict access to water.

You can do this by fencing in your pool, adding gates to the pool and remembering to always supervise swimming.

Keeping a life-jacket on all young kids or weak swimmers is also advisable.