Safety top priority for hikers
Good preparation and common sense are the keys to having fun on the hills
It seems people still haven't learned from the Pat Sin Leng Country Park hill-fire tragedy 12 years ago.
On Sunday, two hiking groups defied warnings not to use the country park trails because of two fires in the area.
In 1996, five people - two teachers and three students - died in a hill fire during a school hiking trip.
'Safety must always be at the top of the list of priorities,' said Johnny Chow Kwok-keung, chairman of the Hong Kong Hiking Association. He said it was silly - and dangerous - to go hiking if there was a hill fire.
'You never know when and where the hill fire will spread to. So don't think you will be able to avoid any dangerous areas,' Mr Chow said.
He said good preparation is a must for hikers, no matter how many times they have covered a route before.
'I don't suggest people go hiking alone. It's always better to go with at least one experienced hiker,' Mr Chow said. Choosing a good time is also very important.
'Check the weather report. It is not suitable to go hiking when it is too hot, too dry, too cold or soon after it rains,' he explained.
Hikers should bring along some sweets or snacks to give them energy, an extra set of clothes, and plenty of water.
'In general, if you plan to hike for three hours, you have to bring one litre of water,' Mr Chow said.
Having an experienced leader could be the difference between life and death, he added. 'You never know when an emergency will arise. A leader has a crucial role to play in such a situation.'
In any emergency, such as heat stroke, animal or insect bite, Mr Chow said hikers should immediately call 999 or 112, if they are not familiar with first-aid procedures.
Therefore, if you want to have fun on the hills, be well-prepared before you leave home.