Have you ever been triple-dog-dared to do something you really shouldn’t do? Remember Flick from the beloved movie ‘A Christmas Story’? He certainly faced a tough choice when his friend triple-dog-dared him to stick his tongue to a frozen flagpole, which ended with his tongue being completely frozen to the pole.
The question must be asked though, can you get your tongue frozen to metal like Flick did? We have the answer for you folks and it is…
Yes! You can get your tongue frozen to metal like Flick did. Let’s explain why that happens.
If the metal pole is below freezing (32 degrees Fahrenheit), your saliva will freeze right to it; however, your tongue would not freeze to say a plastic or rubber surface. That is because metal has a higher thermal conductivity—meaning that it conducts the cold faster than other materials. Usually your tongue stays warm because blood is circulating through it, but when it comes in contact with frigid metal, it freezes faster than you can circulate blood back to it to keep it warm. Basically, your saliva acts as superglue and your taste buds help grip the pole leaving very little room for escape.
No need to worry though. There are ways to remove your tongue from a frozen metal surface should you find yourself in such an unfortunate situation.
The first thing to do is remain calm and DO NOT PULL your tongue off the pole. The last thing you need is a severely mangled tongue.
Get Help – And Water
The best thing to do is flag down someone to help you if all the other school kids bail on you when the bell rings. Have this person get some warm water, NOT HOT (no need to burn your already frozen tongue). Pour the warm water or any other warm liquid slowly over the place where your tongue meets its enemy, the pole. This should warm up the area just enough to allow you to gently free your tongue from the hold of that metal popsicle.
Heat it Up
If you cannot get a hold of a warm liquid, try cupping your hands around your mouth and breathing on pole. You just need to raise the temperature of the area enough to lessen the icy grip that pole has on your tongue. Be very careful not to get your lips stuck at this point. Don’t make the situation worse than it already is.
Make an Emergency Call
If all else fails, swallow your pride and call 911. I know, it is embarrassing, but it is better than losing the tip of your tongue. Emergency response teams have probably dealt with situations just like yours before. You will probably have to have a buddy call 911 since you may or not be capable of coherent speech.
Save the Worst for Last
As an absolute last resort, you can quickly yank away from the pole to free your tongue. This is by far your worst option and should not be practiced unless absolutely necessary, as it will result in a major tongue injury and lots of blood. For information on how to properly care for a tongue wound, see this blog.
Our final piece of advice is this: no matter how squirrely you may seem, do not accept a triple-dog-dare that involves licking a frozen metal surface, and do not, by any means, do this voluntarily. It is not worth it! We promise that your tongue will be more injured than your pride if you accept the dare or decide to test this out. Be smart out there this winter and always be sure to protect your tongue.