Expat Safety Guide in Hong Kong
Hong Kong is generally considered to be one of the safest cities in the world, both during the day and at night and there are no specific threats to women. The police have a strong presence and are highly respected. The majority of them speak English and it is possible to identify those that do by the red label that is sewn under their shoulder badge. While crime is relatively unusual it is always worthwhile to take a number of basic precautions:
- Keep money and valuables safe and out of sight.
- Watch you handbag or wallet when you are in a crowded place.
- As with all cities, you should not go anywhere with someone you don’t know. People often sell illegal goods in Hong Kong and will ask you to follow them to their apartment to view them. This is highly risky and even if they themselves do not pose a risk to you, you may find yourself in trouble with the police if you are caught.
- Close your windows and secure your doors when you leave your apartment or home.
People here can drive quite fast and it is therefore advisable that you only cross the road at designated pedestrian crossings. It is illegal to cross the road when the red man is showing and if you are caught doing so by the police you will be stopped and fined. There are pedestrian skywalks throughout Hong Kong and these should be used when available.
Typhoons and black rain storms are common during the summer months and it is not unusual for weather warnings to be issued on local television, radio, mobile phone text messages and through your apartment concierge. You may also find the latest weather report online from the Hong Kong observatory: http://www.hko.gov.hk/wxinfo/currwx/current.htm. If a typhoon or hurricane is forecast to directly hit Hong Kong then you should stay inside until you are told that it is safe to go out again. Remember that weather can be deceiving and quite often it can look calm and still outside. However, this may well be the eye of the storm or a brief respite and people who venture out during these calm periods are often injured or even killed when the storm recommences.
Hong Kong is increasinly suffering from a pollution problem and at times the air quality in the city is at dangerous levels. In 2013 the Hong Kong government introduced a new pollution index, which measures health risks based on ozone, nitrogen dioxide, sulfur dioxide and particulate matter that may be inhaled. Residents are advised to check air quality levels before engaing in outdoor activities. You can find the latest readings here: http://www.aqhi.gov.hk/en/aqhi/pollutant-and-aqhi-distribution.html
There are a small number of poisonous snakes in Hong Kong but bites causing serious poisoning are rare. If you do come across a snake you should try to avoid it. In the unexpected event that you are bitten you should wipe the area clean and then cool it with a wet compress before immediately going to the nearest hospital. If the snake is dead then you should take it with you to the hospital so that doctors can determine the type of poisoning and treat you accordingly.
Hong Kong’s Food and Environmental Hygiene Department, which runs the Centre for Food Safety, tests a wide variety of foods in Hong Kong. Usually the Centre for Food Safety traces the source of every food item that fails its tests, and then asks food vendors to stop the sale and dispose of contaminated food items. Follow up samples are taken for further analysis.
Additionally the department also issues warning letters and can initiate prosecution if there is sufficient evidence against the vendors and produces.
Hong Kong also has a code termed the “5 Keys to Food Safety” for its food industry. They are:
- Choose – Choose safe raw materials.
- Clean – Ensure hands and utensils are clean.
- Separate – Separate raw and cooked food.
- Cook – Food should be cooked thoroughly.
- Safe Temperature – Food should be stored at safe temperatures.
The Centre for Food Safety also monitors exogenous factors like traces of radiation in imported food in the wake of the recent Japan earthquake.