XIX. FROSTBITE, HEAT-STROKE, DROWNING AND LIGHTNING STRIKE
Working out in the field in winter and being constantly exposed to bad weather, particularly when all the work was done manually, was a reason for hands and feet to get cold to the point of causing pain.
There seems to be a widespread precaution of not putting the frozen extremity near to heat source to avoid the intense pain that causes, but rather the area is massaged to restore the blood circulations.
It is also believed that the affected part should be left to progressively recover the lost heat.
Above all in Álava, there was the widespread practice of playing the person with frostbite in the manure heap. It should be remembered that the custom in the past was to pile up the manure from the livestock in the barn and mix it with the animal bedding to compost. High temperatures are reached during that process. The heat generated was used to restore the blood flow for those people affected by frostbite. That practice was only applied when the people were severely chilled.
Heat-stroke. Eguzkiak pasatu
Heat-stoke is not frequent in most of the areas studied as it is not usually to reach excessively high temperatures, at least in the northern half. In the past, it was an extremely rare occurrence as the people who are now old took many precautions when working in the summer.
Heat-stroke is slightly more frequent due to the new habits. For example, some people work in the fields in a bathing suit, often without a hat, to get brown and drink less liquid as water has been replaced by fizzy and alcoholic drinks to a great extent. Going to the beach has also become very common, where burns are more frequent than heat-stroke.
One of the most widespread practices even though this type of incidence has not been frequent, at least inland, consisted of turning the person upside down or at least their head downwards so that they got rid of the aspired water.
The practice of pressing on the stomach or thorax to get rid of the water, while moving the extremities, was also often reported.
However, deaths due to suffocation have not only been due to drowning. In Moreda (A), if the accident was due to lack of air such as that caused by the stench in the must fermentation in the wineries, the victim is taken out of the cave and given air by fanning him with cardboard or a sack.
In Allo (N), they recall several cases of drowning. Most of them in the waters of the River Ega or in a well, one case in the wheat storage silos and another in a tank at the Bodega Vinícola winery.
Lightning strike. Oinaztarriak jo
Lightning has always been a source of fear for countryfolk given its dramatic consequences for animals, people and homes, whose timber structures would disappear in flames in case of being hit by a thunderstorm. They are many people who know of people and animals killed by lightning strikes.
In Lemoiz (B), for example, women carried scapulars blessed in the church for that purpose. In Amorebieta-Etxano (B), there was the custom to cross themselves after a ray of lightning; in Nabarniz (B), the first thing they did was also to make the sign of the cross.
Sudden deaths, bertan beherako heriotza
Sudden deaths are grounds for concern, as there is no opportunity to prepare for death, but on the other hand, it is believed that the person manages to avoid the suffering that sometimes precedes the passing (Agurain-A). In Gorozika (B), they say that it has been considered the death of the rich, aberatsen heriotza, due to the lack of suffering.
Some people surveyed considered this type of death as a divine punishment. Thus, in Apodaca (A), when a person with a bad reputation died suddenly, it was considered a warning from God.
Nowadays, sudden deaths are attributed to natural causes, particularly due to vascular events and, particularly, due to heart problems.