Note: this list was originally posted at Imaginary Reads

So you’re stuck in the middle of an alien invasion. The mother ship is perched in near earth orbit, flying saucers are circling the Eiffel Tower, little green men are popping up at the local supermarket, and pod people have seized government offices around the world. It had to happen sooner or later. Why didn’t we listen to all those tin foil-wearing conspiracy theorists when we had the chance? Well, nothing for it now but to grab the nearest sharp object or firearm, call your friends for backup, and try to make the most of a bad situation. Here are a few tips to help you stay alive long enough to join the resistance, evacuate the planet, or start that utopian community you’ve always wanted deep beneath the surface of the Earth until this whole invasion thing blows over.

1. Avoid sightseeing. We all know the drill. Aliens appear from the far reaches of space and set right to work with shocking displays of awesomely advanced weaponry. They’ll hit the cities first, to get the biggest bang for their buck (or equivalent alien currency) in terms of eliminating any infrastructure and population that might be tempted to fight back. With that out of the way, however, it’s time to start demoralizing those puny humans with a demonstration of how feeble and insignificant we really are. And what better way than to blow up the most impressive monuments our backward little civilization has been able to produce? Twenty years to build the Pyramid of Giza? How about two seconds with a high-test particle beam? Think the Hoover Dam represents human triumph over nature? Try triumphing over this antimatter death ray. Don’t expect natural monuments to be any safer. These alien jerks will probably bulldoze the Great Barrier Reef and fill the Grand Canyon with molten rock just to show us who’s boss. Best to leave the tourism for another day and stock up on bottled water and instant noodles.

2. Learn the Language. Know thy enemy, the old adage goes, and there are few ways better to get into a sentient being’s head (or wherever they keep their brain) than by understanding their language. It might involve whale-like singing, or clicking pincers, or shifting tones of bioluminescence, but if you can figure out how our alien visitors talk to one another, your chances of surviving to the end of the day will improve dramatically. Not only will it allow you to translate intercepted communications regarding the impending release of hostile nano-robots and eavesdrop on security forces patrolling your town (“Good thing the humans haven’t discovered our weakness to aerosol air freshener, eh Bleeblox?”); you’ll also be able to read signs and labels on everything from ray guns to spaceships to their newly-constructed headquarters of occupation (“Office of the Grand High Leader Without Whom the Invasion Cannot Continue”). Best way to learn an alien language? Immersion, probably, so if you’ve ended up imprisoned someplace, keep an ear open. Otherwise, try tuning in to their daytime television. Nothing like an extraterrestrial telenovela. 

3. Betray humanity. OK, so maybe you’re not the adventurous type. Marginally resilient. Minimally resourceful. Not into defying the odds, braving adversity, risking it all. You prefer a hot bath, a soft bed, and a heady shot of artificially synthesized pleasure serum. That’s fine. Seriously: how many true action heroes have you actuallymet? So if taking on the universe isn’t your cup of tea, why not go ahead and join the winning side? You can bet our visitors from afar will need someone local to do a bit of PR, get the Earthlings on board with whatever sinister scheme they’ve cooked up for us. I mean, someonehas to supervise the teams harvesting our planet’s ozone layer for transport back to the alien home world, or find just the right real estate for the new gladiatorial arena where human prisoners will fight to the death for the amusement of our beloved Galactic Emperor. And you can bet whoever that person is will be richly rewarded. If collaborating with the invaders doesn’t sit well with your conscience, just remind yourself how terribly we humans treated our planet back when we were in charge. You’ll be able to rest assured you did the right thing as you glide over the ruins of mankind’s endeavors in your fully furnished orbital condominium.

4. Never get in a helicopter. This is just common sense, but it bears repeating. When social order starts collapsing, people start trying to escape in helicopters, and those helicopters invariably start blowing up. Always. It’s the universal signal the situation has gone from bad to worse—and if there’s an alien invasion in progress, it’s a pretty safe bet things are headed in that general direction. So when the military lands a few precious rescue copters on the roof of your high school or office building, let someone else hop on first. Not only will this establish you as the sort of selfless, heroic type that nearly always survives the opening waves of mayhem, but I guarantee you the moment that chopper lifts off, some kind of flying space squid is going to get its tentacles tangled in the rotors and turn the whole thing into a flaming ball of I-told-you-so. You watch. If it doesn’t, well, first round of toilet bowl hooch at the Martian penal colony is on me.

5. Be a dog. If there is any universal truth to be gleaned from my experience with alien invasions, it is that the dog almost always survives. Perhaps it’s that the extraterrestrials understand dogs don’t share our human flaws, that they are sincere, loyal, trusting creatures that should not be blamed for any actions perpetrated by the dastardly homo sapiens. Possibly their keen senses and instincts enable survival in ways our clumsy two-legged bodies and television-numbed brains do not. Could be they’re just too adorable to die. Whatever the reason, when the laser blasts start flying, our furry friends enjoy a rate of survival vastly superior to their human counterparts. So if you’ve ever thought about becoming a dog, now just might be the time.