TODAY

TODAY   |  June 12, 2013

Deadly rip currents plague Alabama, Florida shores

This week alone, five people have drowned in rip currents as officials along the Gulf Coast put up flags warning swimmers to beware of the dangerous currents. NBC’s Janet Shamlian reports.

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>>> with a new warning for people headed to the beach this summer. swimmers faye potentially deadly rip currents . she is in gulf shores , alabama with this story. good morning.

>> reporter: good morning to you. since sunday five people died along the alabama and from fla coast as a result of the dangerous rip currents . here in gulf shore the beaches are open again but they're flying the cautionary yellow flag . in panama city , florida they shut down the beaches and told everybody to stay out of the water after the latest victim was found there yesterday afternoon. along parts of the gulf coast flags are up warning swimmers to be wear of dangerous rip currents .

>> it's been rough the fast few days.

>> it has.

>> reporter: this week alone, five people drowned. the results of rip currents . more here along alabama 's shoreline. among them, 25-year-old matthew on vacation with his fiancee and warren moore who was in the surf with his 13-year-old granddaughter. he was trying to save a woman in distress.

>> the granddaughter couldn't get him back to shore.

>> reporter: his granddaughter and the woman were rescued but he was swept away .

>> you would be on one rescue and a call would come in for another rescue. it was a demanding day.

>> reporter: rip currents pull swimmers away from shore. experts say trying to swim against the current is the worst thing to do. instead they say swim parallel to the beach until you're free.

>> this year in particular, we should be extra vigilant and extra careful.

>> reporter: scientists warn rip currents could be especially bad along the jersey shore this year because of super storm sandy as it changed the underwater terrain.

>> where you might be well versed in rip currents they might not be in the same spots this year.

>> reporter: officials warn whenever you're near the water be vigilant.

>> just because you're a strong swimmer doesn't mean you'll be safe all the time. you have to be cautious.

>> reporter: this is coming as the busy summer season is kicking off. these beaches are filled with children vacationing with their families but as the lifeguard told us yesterday this is an open body of water. it is dangerous.

>> a good reminder. at the gulf coast of alabama this morning. thank you so much.

>> at some point in our lives we've all been in a similar situation it's a helpless feeling. even if you know what you're supposed to do.

>> you forget.

>> it still overpowers you.

>> doesn't matter how strong you are. the current is stronger. coming up next, speaking of strength, it's a bird, it's