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HK Natural Hazards


Slippery Path
Mountain Torrent
Landslide
Hillfire
Lightning Stroke
Getting Lost
Heat Stroke
Hypothermia
Snakebite
Bee Sting
Dangerous Plants



Slippery paths

Safety Guidelines
Wear ankle boots with corrugated soles for hiking.
Bring a walking stick for use if necessary.
Whenever possible, avoid walking on wet rock surfaces, muddy paths and sandy badland.
Emergency Measures
When someone has slipped and got injured, check if he has any sprain, fracture, abrasion or other injuries. If necessary, give first aid right away
Fractures may be difficult to detect. If painful swelling occurs, curtail the planned journey.
If the injured can walk, he should do so with the aid of a walking stick or with the support of other companions. He should, by no means, walk by himself as this would aggravate his injury.
If the injured has a severe sprain or difficulty in walking, use a mobile phone or send someone to seek help. Move the injured to a shady, dry and flat ground; cover him with clothing to keep him warm and wait for the arrival of the rescue team.

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Mountain Torrent

The devastating power and speed of mountain torrent should never be underestimated. A small stream may swell and converge into raging torrents in heavy rain and wash away travellers, resulting in casualties within minutes.

Safety Guidelines
Listen to the weather bulletin. Avoid hiking when the weather is unstable, especially when the rainstorm warning signal is hoisted.
Don't hike along a water course when it rains. Leave the water course without delay and head for a high spot ashore.
Don't stay at the water course for a rest, especially at its lower reaches.
Don't wade in the stream after heavy rain.
Never attempt to cross any inundated bridges. In case of heavy rain, leave the water course right away.
Emergency Measures
Rapid flows, turbid water with sand and mud are early signs of torrents. Leave the water course without delay.
If you fall into a rapid flow, grip or hold on to the rocks, branches or vines near the banks; try to get ashore and leave the river course right away.

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Landslide

Landslides are not uncommon when a large amount of rainwater has soaked a natural or artificial slope during a downpour or after a few days of heavy rain.

Safety Guidelines
Avoid going near or staying around steep slopes during heavy rain or after a few days of heavy rain.
The oozing out of a large quantity of muddy water from the base or the weep holes of a slope indicates that the slope is saturated with water. Exposure of inner soil of the slope and appearance of new cracks on the slope are early signs of a landslide. Keep away from such slopes.
Don't proceed by stepping on loose mud if landslide blocks your way; retreat or seek another safe route to leave the scene right away.
Emergency Measures
Unless you are fully equipped and properly trained, don't try to resume life buried in a landslide. You should call for a fully equipped rescue team to avoid further casualties.

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Hillfire

Hill fire advances rapidly upward and windward on a steep grass slope in dry weather. Never underestimate its devastating power.

Safety Guidelines
Listen to the weather bulletin. If the fire danger warning is red, handle kindling materials with great care.
Except at designated barbecue sites or campsites, never light a fire within country parks. Smokers should refrain from smoking; all cigarette-stubs or matches should be totally extinguished before discarding into litter boxes.
Hill fire is difficult to detect in daytime. Always pay attention to flying ashes or burnt smell. If a hill fire is spotted, leave the fire scene right away.
It is difficult to assess the spreading of hill fire. Don't risk continuing your journey in case of a fire nearby or you may get trapped in the fire.
Emergency Measures
Don't panic and keep calm.
Never attempt to attend a hill fire indiscriminately.
Note the following for a quick evacuation from the scene of fire:
a) The direction in which the fire spreads - avoid escaping in the same direction of the prevailing wind
b) The height and density of the vegetation nearby - Find a place with less vegetation for escape.
c) The gradient of the paths nearby - Choose the one which is easiest for escape.
It is easier and quicker to escape through existing paths.
If the fire is imminent and there is no way out, you should cover your exposed skin with wet clothing and then make for the burnt area. This can minimize the chance of getting injured.
Never run uphill if the situation permits.
Don't run into shrubs or grassgrown area, fire usually spreads rapidly and the temperature may soar in these areas.

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Lightning Stroke

Lightning normally strikes at the highest point of an object and the electric current is conducted to the ground via the least resistant path. Hikers attacked by lightning usually have the symptoms of muscle spasm, scalds, suffocation and cardiac arrest.

Safety Guidelines
Listen to the weather bulletin. Avoid hiking when the weather condition is unstable, especially when the thunderstorm warning signal is hoisted.
Wear shoes or boots with rubber soles in outdoor areas.
Emergency Measures
Don't stand at hilltop or near any object with high conductivity. As trees and poles can easily be striken by lightning, give them a wide berth as far as possible. After striking an object, the electricity current of lightning will spread through the ground. Therefore, Don't lie on the ground, especially wet ground surface. Squat and minimize the contact area with the ground as far as possible.
Stay away from iron fences or other metal objects. Don't touch any antenna, water pipes, iron mesh or other similar metal installations. Remove all metal objects (e.g. gold ornaments) from your body.
Take shelter in a building whenever possible.
Don't swim or engage in other water sports. Leave the water and seek shelter right away.
Don't touch any inflammable materials, such as kerosene or liquefied petroleum gas.

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Getting Lost

It is easy to get lost during bad weather or when not properly prepared Safety Guidelines Pay attention to the current weather bulletin and avoid hiking if the weather is bad. Choose only maintained paths that are clearly waymarked and plan the route before setting out carefully.

Emergency Measures
Finding your location with the use of a compass and a map.
Recall the route you have covered and retrace your steps to your original position. If this is not possible, stay and wait for rescue.
Don't go further, this would waste your energy. If you must advance further, take note of all the paths that you have tried. Avoid steep ravines, it is not easy to locate oneself in this topography.
Head for a high spot if you fail to identify your location. It is easier to identify directions there and to be discovered by the rescue team.
In case cold weather sets in but you do not have sufficient warm protective clothing or if thunderstorm or hill fire occur, leave the high spot and find other possible shelter until the situation improves and go back to the high spot again and wait for rescue.
Give out international distress signal.

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Heat Stroke

Heat stroke is caused by one's inability to regulate body temperature through transpiration at high ambient temperatures. The victim feels hot, dizzy, uneasy and even becomes unconscious. When the temperature exceeds 40C, the victim's skin will be dry and flushed; breath and pulse rate will increase. In some serious cases, the victim will suffer from shock. Lower his body temperature and seek medical assistance right away. Overheat of the body will also lead to heat exhaustion which usually occurs when one is engaging in sports in hot humid weather, especially when one fails to replenish his body fluid and salt lost through sweating. The symptoms are exhaustion, headache, dizziness, nausea, muscle spasm, paleness, clammy skin, rapid but weak breath and pulse.

Safety Guidelines
Have good rests during the journey. Don't overwork as this would lead to exhaustion.
Avoid prolonged exposure to direct sunlight. Drink lots of water.
Emergency Measures
Move the victim to a cool shaded place. Remove his clothing and have him lie down with feet elevated; give him lots of fluids if he is conscious. Avoid the victim being surrounded by people. Continue to replenish him with drinks and seek medical treatment right away.
If necessary, employ other body-cooling techniques like immersion in water, wetting clothing and fanning until the symptoms disappear.
If the victim sweats heavily and convulse, serve him with salt water in the ratio of one tea spoon of salt to one litre of water.

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Hypothermia

It is caused by drop of body temperature due to lack of sufficient clothing in a cold place. Even in summer, rapid drop in temperature due to sudden cold rain or rainstorm will also cause hypothermia. Symptoms include fatigue, exhaustion, clammy skin, stumbling, shivering, muscle spasms, stammering and hallucinating etc.

Safety Guidelines
Have a good sleep on the night before the journey. Don'tt join the journey if you are not feeling well.
Have a nutritious meal before setting out. Have high energy food like chocolate during the trip
Bring warm protective and rain-proof clothing and a spare set of clothes for change.
Rest at intervals; Don't overload yourself with bulky object.
Don't overstrain to conserve energy.
Emergency Measures
Seek refuge from the rain and change wet clothes right away.
Cover your head, face, neck and body with clothing or sleeping bag to keep warm. Take hot drinks and high calorific food to maintain body temperature.

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Snakebite

Common venomous snakes in Hong Kong include banded krait, many - banded krait, king cobra, cobra, bamboo pit viper. They are more active in spring, summer and autumn.

Safety Guidelines
Wear long trousers and ankle boots.
Use only the maintained paths; Don't venture into new paths or walk into overgrown area or mixed forest.
Emergency Measures
If you see a snake, keep calm and still. Let the frightened snake run away.
Note the following in case of snakebite:
1.Don't cut, suck or wash the wound. Keep the victim lie down at rest. Avoid alcoholic drinks.
2.Don't elevate the wound or make unnecessary movement.
3.Apply a firm bandage to the part above the bite if possible. If the wound is on the limb, you may apply a broad bandage to the part above the wound.
4.Pacify the victim and rush him to a hospital for treatment. If possible, identify the type, colour and band of the venomous snake. If the snake responsible for the bite has been caught, bring it along to the hospital so that the right anti-venom can be used.

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Bee Sting

Bees, hornets or wasps are not uncommon in the countryside. Be careful not to touch their combs, this would avoid being attacked and stung by their swarm.

Safety Guidelines
Don't venture into new paths; avoid going into bushes and ferns where insects and wasps inhabit.
Don't disturb combs. Never strike bushes with branch or stick.
Spray insect repellent on your body and clothes. Avoid using aromatic body lotion.
Emergency Measures
If there are only one or two hornets hovering above, ignore them and keep going as usual. If there is a comb blocking the way, circumvent it and proceed.
When attacked by a swarm of hornets, squat still and cover your head and neck with outerwear for protection, or lie curled on the ground and evacuate slowly after the swarm has dispersed.
If the sting is left in the wound, remove it with a pair of forceps. Don't squeeze the poison gland to prevent any residue poison from entering the body. You may apply a cold compress and apply it lightly to the wound to soothe the pain temporarily.
Seek medical treatment right away if stung seriously.

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Dangerous Plants

Some common plants in the wilderness are harmful to hikers. For example:

Wax Tree - skin allergy
Prickly Ash- scratches
Wild Fruits - Poisonous; can be fatal if eaten.
Safety Guidelines
Avoid going into dense bushes.
Wear long sleeved clothes and long trousers and bring a pair of gloves.
Protect your head and face or exposed skins with handkerchief or clothing if you have to pass through a bush.
Always exercise extreme care when touching an unknown plant. Don't touch the Wax tree.
Beware of thorns when gripping on a plant or going through a shurb.
Wild fruits are similar and can be poisonous. Don't attempt to eat them
Emergency Measures
Seek immediate medical treatment if skin allergy occurs after touching a plant or you are poisoned by wild fruit.