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Safety and Emergencies for Expats in Hong Kong

Author: Jim Newham
Submitted: July 2013


Hong Kong is generally very safe. The main natural phenomenon to be aware of is the typhoons, also called tropical cyclones. June to October is the main typhoon season, with September being the stormiest month. It is important to keep abreast of official warnings issued via the media during these times. For more information and advice on typhoons, see this government pamphlet:


Though Hong Kong’s waters are normally safe, there may be sharks in the sea at times. If you are planning on swimming, find out if any sharks are present. Alternatively you could swim on a beach that has shark nets installed.

The average July temperature is 29°C, and humidity levels are high. This leads to a risk of heat stroke. To avoid heat stroke, make sure you drink enough water and wear loose, lightweight clothing. Arrange your day so that you are out of the sun when it is very hot, taking breaks from the sun in cooler places whenever possible.

Thanks partly to the helpful and ever-present police force, Hong Kong has one of the lowest crime rates in the world, with violent crimes being particularly rare. In most parts of the territory you are very unlikely to experience any trouble. Walking the streets is mostly safe day and night. Nevertheless, you may be unlucky enough to become a victim, as petty crime can still be problematic.

You are most likely to be pick-pocketed or fall victim to other forms of theft in crowded areas and on public transport. As in any country, theft prevention is about being aware of what is going on around you and keeping your belongings with you at all times. You can help reduce the chances of theft by keeping items such as mobile phones and laptops out of sight as much as possible.

Be aware that a cut-price ‘brand’ product you buy may in fact be an illegal imitation, and buying one could lead to into trouble with the police. There are many other forms of con trick that expats may fall victim to, such as credit card fraud and foreign exchange using counterfeit banknotes. For a more detailed list, see this Hong Kong Police page:

Hong Kong is generally very safe for women, as the incidence of sexual assaults is low. Nevertheless, you do need to be careful to avoid situations where you are vulnerable. If drinking in a public place, make sure you know where your friends are at all times. Also, make sure at all times that there is someone in your group who has an eye on your drinks. Don’t accept drinks from others. You should also be aware of the danger of sexual harassment or indecent assault on public transport.


In an emergency, when you need the police, ambulance or fire services, dial 999 from any telephone. The international standard emergency number, 112, can also be dialled, but it will only work from a digital mobile phone.

The above emergency numbers are only for life or property-threatening situations that need immediate attention. If a crime has occurred but the suspected culprits are not in the vicinity, you can report the crime by visiting your local police station, or calling the Police Hotline on 2527 7177.



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