You've heard about them on the news. Rip currents, rip tides, under toe ... all the same thing. They can kill even experienced swimmers -- unless you know how to survive.
When a channel of water rips you out to sea when there's an (unpredictable and hidden) break in the sandbar, you can die if you try to swim against it. It tires you out until you have nothing left... and you slip below the waves. But it doesn't have to be like that. You can easily survive. In fact, ironically, surfers use them to save energy, to get past the breaking waves since it pulls you just beyond the surf zone before releasing you.
When you feel yourself get swept into water deeper than you can stand, you must tread water. It'll be over your head, but you must not panic. If you can't tread water and swim, you should never enter the ocean, or the Gulf of Mexico. Learn to swim.
When pulled out, you must, "go with it" and swim parallel to the beach until the current relaxes -- which it will a few hundred yards out. Look for breaking waves because that's an area where rip currents are not happen. Then start swimming into the beach. Use the waves to help push you to shore.
It can be scary and sometimes you can get swept out hundreds of yards, but don't panic. You won't get eaten by a shark if out there. You won't get, "taken mysteriously". Don't be scared, just concentrate on keeping your head above water.