The inside of the van!

The Bed

We were handed the van when it had been emptied out. It’s was still a very cluttered layout. To try to get this van even remotely saleable the first thing to do was streamline things a bit more. Neaten it up and hopefully get it on track easily.

Were to begin really………… We will begin with the bed.

The first thing was to remove the bed as there was a number of issues that were of serious concern. Weight and its dispersal is a crucial thing in motor homing and not to mention caravanning too!
This bed was a big heavy chunk of a waste of space, it was also dysfunctional and took up a lot of area leaving very little usable space. Space and the ability to be able to store things in a functional manner is crucial. You need to be able to have good, safe and easy access to the things you need, whilst bearing in mind that the weight is properly dispersed!
The ability to store anything under the bed was a feat in itself. Pien would put something in a box, grab a broom and slide it under the bed. Trying to get the box back was yet another game in itself, try to picture two elderly people that have little physical ability, crouching under a bed!! It would have been a sight in itself!!
Another issue with the bed was the mattress, due to the leaks in the van it had gotten water damaged so mould and rot had set in.
The leaks were from many points, these have been mentioned in the section, “The Mouldy Van”. The combination of all the unattended leaks resulted in serious mould and rot in the mattress. The mattress was never taken out of the van to air dry so it had perfect conditions for mould to grow and thus destroyed it beyond repair. What had been done was the old cover-it-up-and-you-don’t-see-it-trick by adding another blanket to cover it over. Sadly and so easily if taking the mattress was not a feasible thing to do then covering the bed with a tarp or something waterproof and on sunny days open the van to air it out, this simple act would have very much stopped it being ruined.
This is certainly not a healthy way to be sleeping, adding as a result of not ensuring regular mattress rotation,  (a basic futon to-do) it was exceptionally lumpy.
Try having the typical age related aches and pains alongside the usual immunity issues older people have and then see how your night’s sleep would be!! It would not and was not good. When we pulled the mattress out it was clear that the rot had set right through one side to the other. This was a ticking time bomb!!! Sadly the mattress albeit years old had not had a lot of use, it’s such a waste really, it was alleged that it was quite an expensive mattress too.

WebMD
We have done a lot of searching on this site and there is numerous articles regarding the issues related to sleeping on a lumpy, mouldy mattress. The issues are great and when you are an older person suffering chronic pain, diabetes, allergies and so much more that impact of sleeping in this environment can be devastating.  

From Wikipedia

Main article: Mold health issues

Molds are ubiquitous in nature, and mold spores are a common component of household and workplace dust. However, when mold spores are present in large quantities, they can present a health hazard to humans, potentially causing allergic reactions and respiratory problems.

Some molds also produce mycotoxins that can pose serious health risks to humans and animals. Some studies claim that exposure to high levels of mycotoxins can lead to neurological problems and in some cases death. Prolonged exposure, e.g. daily workplace exposure, may be particularly harmful. Research on the health effects of mold has not been conclusive. The term “toxic mold” refers to molds that produce mycotoxins, such as Stachybotrys chartarum, and not to all molds in general.

Mold in the home can usually be found in damp, dark or steam filled areas e.g. bathroom or kitchen, cluttered storage areas, recently flooded areas, basement areas, plumbing spaces, areas with poor ventilation and outdoors in humid environments. Symptoms caused by mold allergy are watery, itchy eyes, a chronic cough, headaches or migraines, difficulty breathing, rashes, tiredness, sinus problems, nasal blockage and frequent sneezing. In extremely rare cases, over-exposure to mold may result in bucal mold growth leading to death by asphyxiation.

FUTON CARE

A futon mattress is filled with 100% cotton fibres (unless a layer of our other fillings has been added), stitched into a cotton cover.
 
These natural materials ensure that the futon is warm in winter and cool in summer. Although traditionally a futon is used directly on the floor, western sleeping habits brought about the use of the wooden slatted base. The slats allow air to circulate beneath the futon thus making the futon easier to care for.
 
Because a futon is made of cotton, it absorbs body moisture, so it needs to be aired to allow the cotton to dry. We recommend that you flip and rotate once a week and leave the bedclothes off the futon twice a week to ensure adequate airing. If you have your futon on the floor it needs to be rolled everyday to allow your futon and the floor to air. For a futon kept on a slatted base we recommend that you:

  • Flip and rotate weekly.
  • Roll it up twice a week.
  • Air outside monthly.
  • Only move a futon by picking it up from the sides.

If the futon ever gets wet, sponge the cotton cover with a damp cloth and put the futon in the sun as soon as possible. So far as cleaning is concerned, a futon is a mattress, therefore cannot be washed or dry cleaned. We recommend using a cover or a sheet. NEVER remove the filling from the outer casing (shell).

The Fridge

Well the fridge was from a good friend, it was in their backyard, believe it or not! It was then used for a number of job sites that Bill worked on up until the Rhombus Explora had its first overhaul then it moved to its new home in the van.
It did suffice its need for a while but not for the last 4-5 years…….although as long as you had picture perfect weather your beer would keep cool!!! If not you would either find your lettuce frozen to a snap or your meat all frozen.
On a hot day the fridge would not keep food cold enough so it would be in the danger zones for some time over and over again. So food was being re-frozen many times or stored at dangerous temperatures for long periods of time. The health risks involved are astronomical. It’s something that Deanne as a trained chef has bashed her head against a wall a number of times explaining that this needs to be fixed ASAP! It worries us as they both have failing health and it would not take much to make them very sick and especially as they both are heart/diabetic……………….patients too!
Henk always jokes he has a “cast iron gut”, however most people do not have this luxury so the risk to other people’s health is exceptionally high if they eat a meal made from food from this fridge. This is the sole reason to why when we went away with them we would stipulate that we would bring ALL the high risk items. It’s no fun getting a case of the runs because you have been given some dodgy food and more so when you have explained the how’s and the whys of eating food at bad temperature zones what seems a million times. Our good Aunt and Uncle in Holland are amazing when it comes to food health and hygiene, they actually have fridges in their cars regardless if it is 2 degrees outside! The methods that they use is certainly something that we as Australians in the climate that we have could very well put in place!

From the Better Health Channel
http://www.betterhealth.vic.gov.au/bhcv2/bhcarticles.nsf/pages/Food_safety_storage?OpenDocument 

Food poisoning is frequently caused by bacteria from food that has been poorly stored, handled or cooked. Food contaminated with food poisoning bacteria may look, smell and taste normal. If food is not stored properly, the bacteria in it can multiply to dangerous levels.

Beware of the temperature danger zone
Food poisoning bacteria grow and multiply fastest in the temperature danger zone between 5°C and 60°C. It is important to keep high risk food away from this temperature zone.

Take special care with high risk foods
Food poisoning bacteria can grow and multiply on some types of food more easily than others. High risk foods include:

  • Meat
  • Poultry such as chicken and turkey
  • Dairy products
  • Eggs
  • Smallgoods such as salami and ham
  • Seafood
  • Cooked rice
  • Cooked pasta
  • Prepared salads such as coleslaw, pasta salads and rice salads
  • Prepared fruit salads.

Food that comes in packages, cans and jars can become high risk after you open it. Food should not be stored in open cans.

Storing food in the fridge
Your fridge temperature should be below 5°C. The freezer temperature should be below -15°C. Use a fridge thermometer to check the temperature in your fridge.

Freezing food safely
When shopping, buy chilled and frozen foods at the end of your trip and take them home to store as quickly as possible. On hot days or for trips longer than 30 minutes, try to take an insulated cooler bag or icepack to keep frozen foods cold. Keep hot and cold foods separate while you take them home.

When you arrive home, put chilled and frozen foods into the fridge or freezer immediately. Make sure foods stored in the freezer are frozen hard.

Storing cooked food safely
When you have cooked food and want to store it:

  • Put hot food into shallow dishes or smaller portions to help cool the food as quickly as possible.
  • Don’t put very hot food into the refrigerator. Wait until steam has stopped rising from the food before putting it in the fridge.

Avoid refreezing thawed food
Food poisoning bacteria can grow in frozen food while it is thawing, so avoid thawing frozen food in the temperature danger zone. Keep defrosted food in the fridge until it is ready to be cooked. If defrosting using a microwave oven, cook the food immediately after defrosting.

As a general rule, it is best to avoid refreezing thawed food. Bacteria in food that is frozen a second time do not die and the food is likely to have higher levels of food poisoning bacteria. The risk depends on the condition of the food when frozen and how the food is handled between thawing and refreezing, but raw food should never be refrozen once thawed.

Store raw food separately from cooked food
Raw food and cooked food should be stored separately in the fridge. Bacteria from raw food can contaminate cold cooked food, and the bacteria can multiply to dangerous levels if the food is not cooked again.

Always store raw food in sealed or covered containers at the bottom of the fridge. Keep raw foods below cooked foods, to avoid liquid such as meat juices dripping down and contaminating the cooked food.

Choose strong, non-toxic food storage containers
Make sure your food storage containers are clean and in good condition, and only use them for storing food. Cover them with tight-fitting lids, foil or plastic film to prevent the food drying out and to prevent anything from falling in. Do not store food in opened cans.

If in doubt, throw it out
Throw out high risk food left in temperature danger zone for more than four hours – don’t put it in the fridge and don’t keep it for later. Check and observe use-by dates on food products – if in doubt, throw it out.

Where to get help

  • Food Safety Hotline Tel. 1300 364 352, Email: foodsafety@dhs.vic.gov.au
  • Your local council health department

Things to remember

  • Keep high risk food below 5°C or above 60°C to avoid the temperature danger zone.
  • Store raw foods below cooked foods.
  • Avoid refreezing thawed foods.
  • Check and observe use-by dates on food products.
  • Take special care with high risk foods.

The Cupboards and Storage

 

The cupboards that were in the van were not that big and storage was not all the good either. There was very little area to put anything. They were also heavy; they were put in brand new and new push button door openers were put in place to lock shut the doors when not in use. They should have lasted years and years, but they were yanked open and all the locking mechanisms were broken in a short time. Kind of shocking really as we have seen motor homes with the same type of push button mechanisms and they are years and years old, these where only weeks old when they were broken!
 A slide bolt and hook and eye system was put in place to hold the doors shut, it did work and was also rather hideous too. The system meant that all that was holding the cupboards closed shut was a hook. Heaven help if you went over a decent bump in the road!

The overhead compartment was only designed for light weights. It would be fantastic to hold clothing as this was pretty much what it was designed for. Weight distribution is critical in motor homing and keeping light weight high and heavy weight low is imperative. Poor weight distribution impedes heavily on by adding excess wear and tear and can easily cause a serious accident
Pien hid a lot of rocks in the overhead area, we giggle thinking that every time Henks back was turned she would race in and hide yet another rock that she had dug up. This was not the only things that were in the overhead area…….there were sledgehammers and shovels and picks, for the life of us we cannot understand why as none of it had been really used and neither of them could pick any of these things up.
So basically it was a lot of weight being carried about without need and no reason. This would have impacted heavily on fuel costs and even more so on wear a tear. They key to motor homing is keeping weight DOWN. The extreme added weight in the overhead compartment bent it downwards and was crushing onto the cabin. Not a safe area to be, directly under a mountain of excess weight. Below are photos of trying to repair yet another act of recklessness and yet more things with a tiny ounce of TLC and listening to the good advice that was given we would not have had to do! GRRRR!

Trying to repair the overhead compartment!

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