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Time to Santa-proof

Take some smart steps for your convenience and for his safety

Face it, Santa has a lot to do in the next couple of days. Will he ever be able to get to all those children who are counting on him?

You can help by making your home more Santa-friendly. We asked some experts how.

A strong roof. The folks at DaVinci Roofscapes in Kansas City say new polymer slate and shake roofing tiles have been tested to handle high impacts and heavy weights – say, a jolly old elf, three tons of sleigh and nine not-so-tiny reindeer. “So we’re confident that Santa is in for a smooth arrival when landing,” says Ray Rosewall, president and CEO.

A clean chimney. It’s been kind of warm this year, so maybe the fireplace hasn’t gotten much use. But Santa loves a sootless – and structurally sound – chimney, says Kim Aweit, marketing staff member of Stars Chimney Service in Fort Wayne. That can be accomplished with a chimney cleaning and inspection that checks the damper and the cap and makes sure there are no cracks or leaks, she says. “You can make sure it’s safe to use, and ready for Santa,” she says.

Reindeer-friendly landscaping. Mostly, homeowners want their landscape to be deer-resistant. But reindeer might get hungry during a long flight. Staff members at Foellinger-Freimann Botanical Conservatory say the reindeer that visit there at Christmastime eat deer chow. But if you don’t have any of that to offer, landscape plants that regular deer like – yews, daylilies, hostas and dogwoods, according to the North Dakota Game and Fish Department – will do in a pinch.

Outdoor lights. Santa needs lights to find your house. But Steve Worrell, in sales at Wabash Electric Supply in Fort Wayne, says even if you haven’t decorated with holiday lights, you can put your regular outdoor lights on a timer so they’ll be on for Santa’s stop and then turn off automatically to save energy. “A lot of new homes have a switch inside that controls electrical outlets outside, and you can replace the switch with a timer for about 40 bucks,” he says. (That’s dollars, not reindeer.)

Stain-resistant carpet. Santa spends a lot of time tromping around in fireplaces and on roofs, so his boots will probably be a little dirty by the time he gets to your house. Paul Bonewitz, flooring sales specialist at Contract Interiors in Fort Wayne, thinks you might want to proactively install some stain-resistant carpet, such as Smart Strand by Mohawk, a high-performance synthetic fiber made with environmentally friendly corn oil. Of course, there’s always something temporary along the lines of a spray. “But I don’t necessarily believe in that,” he says. If the carpet does get stained, use warm water and dish soap, pat gently, rinse thoroughly and blot dry.

Homeowners insurance. To paraphrase that catchy TV commercial for Indiana Farm Bureau Insurance, if Santa comes to your house and hurts himself coming down your chimney, will your insurance cover it? “Technically, Santa should have a workers comp policy that would cover him for all sorts of things, like injury while working,” says Michelle Widenhoefer, a Farm Bureau agent in Fort Wayne. “If he doesn’t have that, then I believe that would fall under the homeowner’s policy. It should cover him under the liability coverage, like if an accident happened to any other visitor.”

She adds that homeowners still might want to sign up for the temporary reindeer insurance that at least one of the company’s community-minded agents has sold during Christmases past – to earn money for charity, of course.

Milk and cookies. Make that skim milk and low-fat, sugar-free cookies. We wouldn’t want St. Nick to need an ambulance before his rounds are through, now would we?

rsalter@jg.net

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