When it comes to surviving in a hostile environment, there is no one better qualified to offer advice than a former Special Forces operator.

Here are five pieces of advice that can help you stay alive in a dangerous situation:

Stay calm and think clearly.

In a crisis situation, it’s important to stay calm and think clearly. Panic will only make things worse and there’s not a single thing panic can help. Take a few deep breaths and assess the situation. This will give you a better chance of making the right decision. If you don’t know how to make that decision, start from the beginning or the first thing. The most important thing to remember is never make decisions based emotions.

Be prepared.

If you know you might find yourself in a dangerous situation, it pays to be prepared. The mind of course but also make sure you have the relevant supplies you need, and know how to use them. Familiarize yourself with the area you’ll be in as well as the people and crowds, and have a plan for what you’ll do if things go wrong. However, it’s impossible to be prepared for every situation in every scenario, so whenever possible, research where you’re going or will be to get the relevant intel to prepare better.

Stay aware of your surroundings.

One of the most important things you can do is stay aware of your surroundings. Pay attention to what’s going on around you, and be on the lookout for any potential threats. This includes both physical threats (such as animals or hostile people) and environmental threats (such as cliffs or bodies of water). Make mental notes in your head to use to make decisions later on if needed. We all have base situational awareness but with practice and training, it can be a valuable tool for any situation.

Trust your instincts.

If something doesn’t feel right, trust your instincts and get out of there. It’s better to err on the side of caution than to walk into a dangerous situation blindly. These gut feelings are often coming from something real, it’s not imaginary – when you see or hear something so subtle that you don’t realize it, but your brain does and so it translates it into instincts. That’s why you sometimes get a strange feeling of danger or suspicion but can’t exactly place your finger on it. It’s like a vague but effective alarm system, you just have to know how to respond to it.

Know when to ask for help.

There’s no shame in admitting that you need help. If you’re lost or injured, don’t try to tough it out on your own if help is near or possible – call for help. The sooner you get assistance, the better your chances of survival will be. Some say asking for help is a weakness, but not asking it when you need it is a weakness. Because that means you rather appear strong than weak because of ego, even when you know you’ll be even more weak if you don’t get help. So not only is not asking for help when you need a sign of weakness, it puts you in actually position by this inaction.

It’s part of my Special Forces training. You’re taught to come up with a solutions, not look for excuses. -Nirmal Purja