How to protect yourself, your family in the event of a home invasion

By Bill Spencer - Investigative Reporter

HOUSTON - It's the middle of the night and your house is being invaded by armed men with guns who plan to take you hostage and take what they want. What are you going to do now?

What you decide to do in the next 15 minutes could save your life and the lives of your loved ones, or end in tragedy and death.

A special team of security experts with decades of experience -- Jim Napolitano, a former U.S. Secret Service agent, and Col. Bernie McCabe, former member of United States Special Operations -- is going to teach you the steps to surviving a home invasion.

"My ultimate goal should be to protect my family from harm, end of story," Napolitano said.

It all starts with a plan, and that plan goes into action the second you hear the criminals entering your home.

With a typical family, both adults need to snap into immediate action. One adult is in charge of grabbing a weapon (usually a loaded gun) and holding off the attackers, while the other adult must rush in and gather all the children and lead them to the safe room, where that adult will lock the room down and immediately call 911 for help.

What is a safe room? It can be any room, but generally it will be a closet or bathroom with no windows, a special steel security door (that you have installed), a reinforced, heavy-duty door frame and three separate deadbolt locks spaced evenly apart.

Inside that safe room, you should have a second weapon locked up in a gun locker. You should have a cellphone you never remove from that room and a flashlight.

Outside the safe room, as the home invaders begin to move throughout the house looking for you and your family, the adult armed with the handgun should stay back, close to the safe room and away from any open areas.

From a protected position, behind a wall if possible, the armed adult will train his or her gun down the hallway as he or she waits for the attackers to come down that hallway, what's called "the fatal funnel."

From this position the homeowner/home-defender has all the options and can safely fire at the attackers, who will be walking right into the homeowner's firing line.

Don't venture out into your home's open areas where you will be wide open; stay hidden down that hallway.

Experts say to let the invaders walk right into that confined space, where they become the perfect target.

"It gives you all the advantage," Napolitano said. "The crooks are now exposed, out in the open, and you have a very small, confined area to fire into. Shoot them all, because this is survival for you."

But what if you don't have a gun and don't believe in guns?

Channel 2 experts say you have to improvise your weaponry. A $30 fire extinguisher -- available in any hardware store -- that fires retardant is an ideal choice. That's because the fire extinguisher is easy to use. You will hit what you aim at, and it will both stun and blind your attackers with fire retardant.

An additional bonus is that your attackers will not be able to breathe after being hit in the face with the chemical agent inside.

Remember, with a gun or without, experts say your entire job is simply to survive for the first 15 minutes.

In review:

  1. Get your children to the safe room
  2. Secure safe room and call 911
  3. Stop or hold off the attackers with a weapon
  4. Wait for the police to arrive

One more point security experts stress is to make sure you know how to handle a gun safely if you are going to keep one in your house.

To do that, you can call any gun range and ask about taking firearms training.

To protect yourself from the surprise of home invaders breaking into your house in the middle of the night, experts recommend installing a motion sensor lighting system around each of your home's exterior doors, as well as a loud alarm.

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