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In daily life, one bad decision can lead to trouble. But in the outdoors, a chain of bad decisions can kill, as each poor choice magnifies the last until the victim is beyond rescue. Know how to make the right call at critical moments, however, and you’ll be primed to prevent–and overcome–almost any backcountry mishap. We’ve dissected three common survival situations–getting lost, suffering a serious injury, and being caught in a sudden storm–to pinpoint the essential decisions that separate the survivors from the statistics. Here’s how to choose wisely.