PREDICAMENT: Your buddy is upside down and unconscious in a kayak.
GUT REACTION: Jump out of your boat and yank him to the surface.
ON SECOND THOUGHT: Flip him upright using what's known as the Hand of God rescue. "You're both safer inside your boats," says pro kayaker Brad Ludden. It'll be easier for you to float (versus swim) him to shore, and your buddy will remain protected from rocks. Here's how you do it: (1) Pull parallel to the victim's kayak. (2) Drop your paddle, reach across the overturned kayak, and grab the cockpit rim—clamp down right through the neoprene spray skirt. (3) Push down hard with your other hand on the near edge of the overturned kayak and haul the far cockpit rim toward you. "Throw your entire body into it," says Ludden. (4) The boat, with your friend inside, will roll up surprisingly easily.
PREDICAMENT: You're being mugged.
GUT REACTION: Hand over your wallet.
ON SECOND THOUGHT: Hand over a decoy wallet instead, filled with expired IDs, credit cards, and some trivial amount of the local currency. Outside contributing editor Patrick Symmes pulled this move two years ago in Venezuela, forking over the wallet, a wad of expired Bolivian bills, and the $70 in his pocket—preserving the $500 he'd zipped into a money belt.
PREDICAMENT: You've located your buried ski partner with transceiver and probe.
GUT REACTION: Start digging straight down!
ON SECOND THOUGHT: You remember that snow-safety experts have recently devised a smarter strategy and start your excavation downhill of the victim. You'll save energy and precious seconds (or even minutes) by not lifting the dense debris out of a pit. Plus, because you're not on top of him, your body weight is less likely to inadvertently collapse his air pocket. "Strategic shoveling is saving lives," says Bruce Edgerly, owner of Backcountry Access (BCA) and author of the paper "The ABC's (and D) of Digging," which focuses on "preserving the airway (A), using burial (B) depth to define the excavation area, clearing (C) snow to the sides first, and digging (D) snow only once." For more details, including step-by-step instructions, click on the Education and Research tab on BCA's Web site, BackcountryAccess.com.