Department of Health

Safety Hints on Hiking

 

1.
The hiking routes and transport information provided in this website are for reference only.  Hikers should choose the hiking routes and means of transport most suitable for themselves before setting out.
2.
Get well prepared before setting out.  For example, pay attention to the weather report and forecast for the day, check the mobile phone coverage in countryside, read on safe countryside trips and refer to the latest countryside maps.  Hikers may also install and activate smartphone applications with tracking functions.  In case of an accident, the tracking information recorded by the applications can facilitate the work of search and rescue teams.  Some useful websites are listed below:

(i) Weather Information for Hiking and Mountaineering

(ii) MyObservatory – Weather at your location

(iii) Mobile Network Services in Country Parks

(iv) Stay in Touch in Country Parks

(v) Country Park Hiking Safety Guidelines

(vi) Thunderstorm Warning and Points to note

(vii) GPS Hiker Tracking Service

(viii) “MyObservatory” Mobile Application

(ix) "Enjoy Hiking" Mobile Application

(x) My MapHK Mobile Map App
3.
Pay attention to the latest weather information issued by the Observatory before and during the activity, and the possible weather changes.  Change or cancel the activity plan if inclement weather is forecasted.
4.
The development, movement and dissipation of thunderstorms can be quite rapid and fairly localized. In case of thunder and lightning, avoid using mobile phones and walkie-talkies. Do not stand on hill tops or near any highly conductive objects. Keep away from trees or masts which are likely to be struck by lightning. Since lightning current is conducted away through the ground, you should not lie down especially when the ground is wet. Instead you should crouch down to minimise the area in contact between you and the ground. 
5.
Avoid hiking on days of very hot weather, high humidity, with no wind or when the Air Quality Health Index is very high or serious. Avoid prolonged exposure to direct sunlight in extremely hot weather.  Drink more water and replenish the electrolytes lost.  Take appropriate breaks during the journey.  Do not overextend yourself as it will lead to exhaustion.  In addition, hikers should have a thorough understanding of heat stroke and heat exhaustion so that appropriate actions can be taken when they come across such situations.
6.
Do not go hiking alone.  It is preferable to go hiking in a group of at least four.  Before setting out, hikers should inform their family members or friends who are not joining the trip of their intended route.  Should an accident happens, the information will be useful for them to seek assistance from the police.
7.
It is advisable to go with an experienced hiking leader and follow his/her decisions and instructions.  Do not leave your group halfway through the trip.
8.
Do enough warm-up exercises before setting out.
9.
Do not eat wild fruit or drink untreated water from any stream.
10.
Do not play with or feed stray cats, dogs or wild monkeys to avoid being attacked.
11.
Do not venture into bushes or woods indiscriminately with no road signs.
12.
To avoid getting lost or having an accident, do not deviate from the planned route indiscriminately or attempt to take any overgrown shortcuts. Before setting out, study the map and information about the route. Plan the trip carefully to avoid getting lost or injured and take into account factors such as the length, gradient and surface condition of the route, the time required to finish the trip, fitness condition and physical ability of the participants.
13.
Do not stand at a cliff edge or climb onto rocks to take photos or view the scenery.  For the sake of safety, follow the instructions as set out in the notices put up by the relevant Government Department.
14.
Avoid going near/staying around steep slopes or wading in streams or brooks during heavy rain or after days of heavy rain.  Do not take shelter from the rain under bridges at water courses, and do not walk on the wet rocks to avoid being swept away by raging torrents.
15. Pay attention to the wet rock surfaces, muddy paths and sandy badlands which all pose similar hazards. Hikers may sustain a fall easily when going down a hilly path. Hiker should wear ankle boots with corrugated soles for hiking and bring a walking stick if necessary. Put on casual clothes (e.g. light-coloured long-sleeved shirts and long trousers). Put on a suitable hat that can protect you from sunlight in summer and keep you warm in winter.
16.
Don't light a fire or cook at any place other than the designated barbecue sites.
17.
To prevent hill fire, don't smoke.  When there is a hill fire, stay calm.  Leave the fire scene immediately and dial 999 to report the fire.
18.
Listen to your body and do not overstretch yourself. Take enough water for the whole trip as outlets for beverage may not be available on the route.   Replenish water from time to time during the journey.  When sweating heavily, drink 150 to 200 millilitres of liquid every 15 to 20 minutes even if not thirsty.  Also, take some carbohydrates (such as biscuits, breads, convenient rice and sweet porridge which are light in weight and require no heating) as food provisions on the trip.
19.
If you get lost, retrace your steps.  Do not force your way further.  Seek help immediately when necessary.
20.
Pay attention to the hazard warning signs erected by government departments along the route.
21.
To prevent insect and mosquito bites, you may apply a mosquito repellent onto your clothes and / or over your exposed skin.
22.
Other necessary items (to be kept in waterproof/plastic bags by category)
(i) A countryside map and a compass to facilitate quick comprehension of the topography
(ii) A fully-charged mobile phone to facilitate communication and call for help (Service coverage of the phone should be checked beforehand)
(iii) An umbrella or a waterproof anorak
(iv) A first-aid kit (containing medicated plasters, bandage, dressing, antiseptic, etc.)
(v) A torch and a whistle
(vi) Emergency food provisions, such as chocolate and raisins which are high in calories and easy to carry around
(vii) A spare set of dry clothes for change
23.
In case of an accident, hikers can call for help with the fixed network emergency helpline telephones installed along the route.  They can also dial 999 or the international emergency call number 112 with their mobile phones, or try to use Channel 9 of walkie-talkie to call for help.  When seeking assistance, the following information should be provided clearly:
(i) Nature and cause of the accident;
(ii) Time and location of the accident;
(iii) Position, grid reference and the number of the nearest distance post;
(iv) Terrain and special landmarks in the vicinity;
(v) Personal particulars of the injured or sick person (e.g. his/her name, age, sex, telephone number, residential address, contacts of family members and details of injury);
(vi) First aid given;
(vii) Weather condition; and
(viii) The number, state and movement of other group members.
24.
Those who suffer from chronic illnesses such as heart disease and asthma are advised to consult the doctor before deciding if they should go hiking.

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