Lesson learned: Your tongue really will stick to a flagpole
Maddie Gilmartin, 12, got an idea while she was outside playing around a flagpole.
It was only for a split-second, but that's all it took with air temperatures plummeting to near zero around the time of the incident Thursday night.
When she tried to pull her tongue off, the skin tore and her tongue began to bleed while still attached to the icy cold pole.
Her mother, Tracy, was inside the house and at one point looked out and saw her daughter around the flagpole with her arms flapping up and down, but she assumed she was just playing.
"I was trying to scream Mom, but obviously that didn't work because she didn't come. It was scary. It was cold and I didn't want anything else to freeze," said Maddie, a sixth-grader at the Cooperative Middle School in Stratham.
"I just kind of stuck it there and I thought that it would come right off," she said.
Shawn finally saw Maddie stuck to the pole when he came back up the driveway.
"We've got a child stuck to the flagpole and she's bleeding," he told her.
Tracy quickly realized the seriousness of the situation when she saw the blood.
Police Officer Garrett Almstrom arrived as the Gilmartins were trying to decide whether to pour warm water over the pole to free Maddie's tongue.
They eventually realized that warm water was the best option after Shawn received advice from others, including his sister, who works in the medical field and called an emergency room doctor.
Maddie's tongue was frozen to the flagpole for about 10 to 15 minutes before she was freed by the warm water.
She was taken to Exeter Hospital, where doctors told her that she would continue to experience some pain until it healed up on its own.
The Gilmartins said the scene from "A Christmas Story" was the first thing that came to their minds. The nurse and the emergency room doctor also mentioned the scene after she arrived at the hospital.
But there was no dare involved. Maddie's a kid who was just curious and learned the hard way.
Her parents hope other kids will realize the dangers and not make the same mistake their daughter made.
Maddie said her tongue now aches and feels like it was stung by a bee, but otherwise she's doing fine.
After they returned home from the hospital Thursday night, Maddie's father showed her the clip from the movie.