in: Manly Know-How, Skills, Visual Guides

• Last updated: June 29, 2024

What to Do If Your Tongue Gets Stuck to a Flagpole

It can happen to the best of us.

You’re hanging around a flagpole with your pals in the freezing cold, and one of them triple-dog-dares you to put your tongue on the pole to see if it sticks.

Well, lo and behold, it did stick, so now how do you get it unstuck?

I’ve thought about this scenario ever since I was a kid and first saw the cinematic classic A Christmas Story. For some reason I decided that this could happen to me one day and if it did, I needed to know how to get my tongue unstuck from a frozen flagpole without having to call the police and fire department.

Metal is a strong thermal conductor, and when you stick your tongue on a very cold pole, it pulls the heat away from the saliva that coats your tongue’s nooks and crannies. That moisture then freezes, bonding your tongue to the pole. The key to getting your tongue unstuck is thus to melt that bond. If you have a pal around who can procure a vessel of warm (not hot!) liquid, he can pour it on the pole to thaw things out.

If you find yourself abandoned by your friends in your time of need, just like poor Flick in A Christmas Story, you can still get your tongue unstuck if you keep your head. Bring your mouth as close to the pole as possible without your lips or more of your tongue touching it. Cup your hands around your mouth to create a little cave. Your warm breath will slowly thaw the stuck portion of your tongue and you can then gently pull it away from the pole.

Never again accept triple-dog-dares from your friends. Also, get new friends. They left you high and dry!

There you go: how to get your tongue unstuck from a frozen flagpole. If you shoot your eye out with a BB gun, you’re on your own.

Illustration by Ted Slampyak

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