Before moving to Kuala Lumpur contact your HR department regarding medical check-ups and vaccinations.
Please see Emergency Numbers for a list of telephone numbers of police, ambulance, fire brigade, and hospitals. A detailed list of hospitals and clinics frequented by expats can be found in the Inside Guide (requires log-in or request a copy by e-mail)
Mosquitoes are prevalent in Malaysia and are most active at dusk. You can buy mosquito coils at all supermarkets, which, while burning, can keep mosquitoes at bay. There are also electrical devices available that emit a high frequency noise, which is supposed to keep mosquitoes away. You can also use spray or roll-on repellent which is available everywhere. During the rainy season the local councils undertake fogging/fumigation of areas where mosquitoes are more prevalent. Keeping windows closed and using the air-conditioning also helps to prevent being bitten. Mosquito nets are available at IKEA and most major department stores.
Occasionally, there is an outbreak of Dengue in KL. Dengue fever is a viral disease transmitted by mosquito bites. The adult mosquitoes rest indoors and prefer to feed on humans’ blood during daylight hours. There are no vaccinations to prevent this disease or medication to treat it. Symptoms usually include fever, headache, skin rash, muscle and joint pains. The incubation period is 10-14 days. Recovery is slow, if recognized early the disease is usually not fatal.
Avoid any pools of standing water as these are breeding grounds for mosquitoes. The government tries to control by spraying/fogging urban and residential areas.
From June to September, the KL skies can turn grey. It is no longer the rainy season and KL does not have a huge pollution problem. The grey skies are caused by farmers burning their land for farming purposes. In KL this is commonly known as “The Haze”.
The Haze can aggravate any allergies that you may already have and worsen asthma symptoms. The strength of The Haze varies from year to year. In general, it is advisable to stay indoors as much as possible if you are susceptible to allergies or asthma. It is also advisable to keep the air-conditioners and air purifiers running most of the time.
Malaysia uses the Air Polutant Index (API) as an index for the outside air quality. API's measured at stations around Malaysia are hourly updated and published on the APIMS website of the Department of Environment.
Cockroaches are an annoyance in KL. They can be found even in the cleanest homes. You can spray them, leave out special traps (available at all supermarkets) or call in the fumigators. The last option is most effective.
The Malaysian peninsula was once covered with jungle and you will still find a variety of exotic plants growing in the KL area. Some plants may be poisonous if eaten or may cause skin reactions if touched.
Please note: Certain varieties of mango trees produce a sap which is irritating to the skin. The branches of the colorful oleander are poisonous. Other poisonous plants include bamboo, cashew nut tree, dieffenbachia, frangipani, palm, papaya tree, philodendron and poinsettia.
Malaysia is home to more than 200 species of snakes but less than 20 species are poisonous. If a snake finds its way into your garden or home, remember that it is not there to attack you and it is probably just as frightened as you are.
If you are bitten, try to remain calm and try to identify the snake by memorising the colour, the head shape and any specific markings. You should proceed to a hospital immediately.
If you discover a snake in your garden, the number to contact is +603-9284-3434/3636. This is the number for City Hall for 24-hour assistance. Someone will come to catch the snake and deliver it to the zoo or release it in the wild.
Geckos (cicaks, pronounced chick-chaks) are small lizards which you will see running around on the walls and ceilings of your home. They are completely harmless and assist in keeping the insect population down in your home. Some local housewives leave a little rice out for their geckos to encourage them to stay around.
Malaysia is a safe place to live; however, it is prudent to be always aware of your home and personal safety. Prior to signing the lease make sure that your premises has adequate locks and security lighting. Ensure your doors and gates are locked at all times. For added security many people own dogs.
Petty snatch thefts and car break ins have been increasing in the past few years. Be sure to always be aware of your surroundings.
Beware of people coming door-to-door supposedly providing services or selling goods. Your maid should be instructed not to let anyone in unless you have advised her that they have an appointment. A very informative booklet entitled “Security Guide” has been prepared by Shell’s HSE Department and is available on request from the HR department.