Worst-Case Wednesday: How to Treat a Tongue Stuck to a Pole

Posted by Basia Padlo

It's getting cold outside, and the Christmas season is almost upon us (or it already is upon us, if you've been to your local Target lately). People do all sort of crazy things around the holidays, and every family and/or friend group has That Guy. You know who I'm talking about–the one who thinks it's a good idea to reenact the scene from A Christmas Story.

So one minute you're all laughing at what a great joke this is going to be, and the next, your friend or cousin or brother or whoever has gotten their tongue stuck to a cold metal pole. Never fear! The Worst-Case Scenario Handbook: Holidays has a way to fix this.

Do not panic.

Do not pull the tongue from the pole.
Pulling sharply will be very painful.

Move closer to the pole.
Get as close as possible without letting more of the tongue's surface area touch the pole.

Warm the pole with your hands.
A tongue will stick when the surface of the pole is very cold. The top few layers of the tongue will freeze when the tongue touches the pole, causing bonding. Place your gloved hands on the area of the pole closest to your tongue. Hold them there for several minutes.

Take a test pull.
As the pole warms, the frozen area around the tongue should begin to thaw. Gently pull the tongue away from the pole. You may leave a layer or two of skin on the pole, which will be painful, but the tongue will quickly heal.


Use warm water.
Pour water from a water bottle over the tongue and the pole. Do not use water that is cold, or it may freeze and exacerbate the problem.


Do not try to loosen your tongue with your own saliva: Although saliva is relatively warm, the small amount you will be able to generate is likely to freeze on your tongue.

If another person is present, have him or her pour warm (not hot) water over your tongue. This may be difficult to articulate while your tongue is stuck—pantomiming a glass of water poured over your tongue should do the trick.