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Expert Travel Advice Prior to a Packed Chinese New Year

With more than 3 billion trips expected on roads, trains, planes and ships, good preparation is key to ensuring a healthy, safe and happy Chinese New Year.
Huge crowds can cause travel delays and pose potential security risks.
2015-02-04 14:38 2244

BEIJING, Feb. 4, 2015 /PRNewswire/ -- With over a billion people on the verge of celebrating the Lunar New Year festival, International SOS offers tips to keep both travellers and those staying at home in China safe, secure and healthy.

International SOS and Control Risks are expecting over 700,000 expats and travelling members to be in China during the festival season.

The International SOS and Control Risks alliance brings together the extensive global network and expertise of both companies. International SOS is the world's leading medical and travel security risk services group. Control Risks is the world's leading global risk consultancy firm.

"Every Chinese New Year, there's talk of the risks in travelling either domestically in China or internationally," said Dr. Gordon Peters, Medical Director for North Asia.

He continued, "Of course there are plenty of dangers associated with being on the move at this time of year, but with increased traffic on the road, plenty of fireworks being set off and the flu season in the northern hemisphere, risks will be all around this festive season."

Despite media reports suggesting that the sales of fireworks at Chinese New Year had fallen last year by around 37 percent, the numbers of injuries caused by fireworks still runs into the tens of thousands every year, ranging from mild burns to amputations and even death.

Additionally, with huge numbers of people travelling, crowds pose potential risks to those on the move and those staying in their resident city.

James Shi, Director, Client Liaison for International SOS and Control Risks in China said, "After the recent tragedy which involved a large crowd in Shanghai, it is important for locals and expats alike to plan before travelling or celebrating during the Chinese New Year and Spring Festival period. Planning ahead and staying vigilant is the cornerstone of minimizing risks during this time."

Tips to keep in mind

  • Preparation is essential - prior to going anywhere during spring festival, ensure you know your schedule well. Check the local news and any security alerts you may have received from your assistance provider. If you plan on travelling, ensure that you have copies of all essential travel documents including passport, insurance documents and any details of medication. Please note that during the holiday season, hospitals and clinics in China will have reduced staff and services, so please check the schedule of available services in your local hospital.
  • Travel will be a challenge - if you plan on moving around during Chinese New Year, book tickets well in advance. Tickets for planes, trains and other forms of transport will be sold out quickly and will become more expensive as the holiday approaches. Due to the number of people travelling expect delays and set aside more time to make a journey. Long queues and big crowds can be expected at the security checks of railway stations in major cities. Additionally, major airports will experience bigger crowds and extra time should be planned for immigration and security checks.
  • Stay alert in crowds - where possible, avoid crowded places and if you do find yourself in a crowd, remain vigilant, with a planned exit route if necessary. Theft and petty crimes can be prevalent in crowds so be on your guard and make sure your possessions and valuables are in a safe place.
  • Avoid Petty Crime - despite the increased police presence during the festival season, petty crime is a major concern in crowded places in China especially at this time of the year. Common crimes to be aware of are theft of cell phones, wallets and jewellery, confidence scams, fake train tickets, counterfeit bank notes and the theft of bank or credit card information. Travellers are advised to monitor and guard their own belongings carefully, take precautions when using the ATM and other cash/credit devices, not to expose signs of wealth, and not to trust strangers easily.
  • Watch out for fireworks - when lighting fireworks never put any part of your body over the firework and move immediately to a safe distance after the firework has been ignited. Never let children light fireworks and don't try to re-ignite or handle them if they don't ignite properly. Finally, once you have finished, water down all remaining fireworks to ensure there is no risk of fire or unplanned explosions.
  • Be careful on the roads - every year over 1.24 million people die globally in traffic accidents. During the Chinese New Year the numbers of cars and people on the roads will dramatically increase at the beginning and end of the festival, and at popular tourist spots. To ensure safe road travel, make sure the vehicle you are travelling in has been serviced recently and that brakes, lights and tyres are all in good condition. If you are driving, get a good night's rest before travelling, ideally eight hours sleep, and finally, always wear a seatbelt.
  • Be vigilant of taxis - even for locals, taxis in China can be a problem. Generally, it is more convenient for foreign visitors to pre-arrange a pick-up. From city to city, the practices of getting a taxi can vary, with shared taxis and detours not being uncommon. However if you must take a taxi, ensure that you have the destination address written down and tell others about your journey. Always insist that the driver uses a meter and never use an unlicensed taxi.
  • Stay Healthy - Chinese New Year falls every year in the midst of the influenza season in the Northern Hemisphere, so to ensure you have a fun family filled festival, it is important to take some steps to keep the flu at bay. The most effective way to avoid influenza is to get a flu shot. The vaccine only lasts one season, so you need a new one each year. Regularly wash your hands and minimize touching your face. If soap and water is not easily accessible, make sure to carry an alcohol based hand sanitizer and use it frequently. If you do get ill, remember to keep hydrated and rest and also wear a face mask to protect others.

About International SOS

International SOS (www.internationalsos.com) is the world's leading medical and travel security risk services company. We care for clients across the globe, from more than 700 locations in 89 countries. Our expertise is unique: More than 11,000 employees are led by 1,200 doctors and 200 security specialists. Teams work night and day to protect our members.

We have pioneered a range of preventative programmes with in-country expertise and emergency assistance during critical illness, accident or civil unrest. We are passionate about helping clients put 'Duty of Care' into practice. With us, multinational corporate clients, governments and NGOs can mitigate risks for their people working remotely or overseas.

About Control Risks

Control Risks (www.controlrisks.com) is a global risk consultancy specialising in political, security and integrity risk. The company enables its clients to understand and manage the risks of operating in complex or hostile environments. Through a unique combination of services, wide geographical reach and by adopting a close partnership approach with clients, Control Risks helps organisations effectively solve their problems and realise new opportunities across the world.

Source: International SOS
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