Everything is a choking hazard around a small child. Kids put everything in their mouths, and you never know when they’re going to put something dangerous in their mouths the moment your back is turned. That’s why this video of a toddler choking on a hair clip is important to remind parents of what to do in case of an emergency.

Prevention is the best way to keep a child safe, of course. But kids are wily. New Zealand mom Rebecca Fitzgerald says her one-year-old daughter, Charli, had fallen asleep in her car seat, so she picked her up and moved her into her crib. Fitzgerald says she heard Charli wake up on the baby monitor, but then she suddenly just went quiet.

“She just stared at me just vacant and just trying to gasp for air. And she was just really floppy, no noise, just every now and then you would hear this gurgle which meant then there was a tiny bit of air getting in, but obviously just not enough,” Fitzgerald said.

Charli’s hair had been in pigtails, and somehow she got the hair clip into her mouth and started choking on it.

Fitzgerald called emergency services, then ran outside screaming for help, but nobody heard her.

She tried to hit her on the back to dislodge the clip, but in the end paramedics had to use a suction device to get it out.

Here’s what one paramedic says to do when a child is choking.

Paramedic Lucy Kershaw told TVNZ that in a case where a child is choking like that, the best thing to do is to put the baby slightly head down over your leg and hit them sharply in the back, between the shoulder blades.

“The amount of force required is varied, but they’re quite sharp and you want to be checking each time to see if the obstruction is released,” she said.

If the object does not come out after five blows, she says to do five chest compressions to keep oxygen moving through the body.

Kershaw says the big thing not to do is probably what most people would do instinctively. But she says not to put your fingers into the mouth to try to pull the object out, especially if you can’t see what’s in there.

Her mother went public in the hopes of helping other parents.

Fitzgerald says she feels extremely guilty about what happened with Charli and the hair clip. But she decided to go on camera about it, because this information could help somebody else. Fitzgerald says she was always extremely diligent about keeping choking hazards away from her kids. She picked things off the floor, she didn’t give them small toys, and she even kept small, loose objects away from them. But no prevention is entirely perfect, and “that damn hair clip,” as she puts it, almost cost her daughter her life.

It’s brave of Fitzgerald to come forward like that. Commenters can be brutal, and the internet will take any chance it gets to shame a mother for doing something wrong. But Fitzgerald went on the news and everything, and that information could save some other kid’s life.

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(Image: iStockPhoto / cheangchai4575)