Skip navigation

Travel Safety Tips for Visitors

Boating Safety Hurricane Info Mosquito Protection
Telephone Assistance Police Medical/Hospitals

Patrol boat
Officers of the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission patrol the waters of the Keys to conduct boater safety checks and enforce regulations.

Whether you are a diver, boater or bicyclist, or simply enjoy tropical settings, the community leaders of the Florida Keys take your safety very seriously. They have assembled numerous resources with information about safety rules and practices.

Divers and Snorkelers, for example, must always use red and white "diver down" flags to alert boaters of their presence. Boaters should know that the Keys have many shallow areas. They also should pilot their craft at reasonable speeds, especially in channels and harbor areas. All precautions should be taken to avoid decompression illness, but if illness is suspected the hospital staffs in the Keys are very experienced with diagnosing and treating it.

Bicycling is allowed along U.S. 1, the Overseas Highway, but officials hope cyclists will make use of the paved Overseas Heritage Trail, which parallels the highway in many places. In Key West, where bicycling on the historic streets is hugely popular, city leaders emphasize that cyclists must use lights at night.

If you plan to enjoy the fabulous weather of the Keys, please be advised that the sunlight at latitude 24 is very intense and can burn unprotected skin in a matter of minutes. Sunscreen is strongly advised.

The Keys have three well-equipped hospitals, but in some severe emergencies patients are airlifted to facilities on mainland Florida.

During the summer and fall hurricane season, you should be aware that this web site becomes part of a well-oiled public communications system that keeps visitors and residents apprised of any possible need to evacuate.

Luckily, the crime rate is low in the Keys but our Sheriff's Office can give you advice on how to avoid becoming a rare victim.

We encourage you to learn more about safety with the following resources:

Visitor Assistance Line

  • Phone: 1-800-771-KEYS (5397)
    Multi-lingual staff are ready to help you with directions and phone numbers to medical facilities and law enforcement offices and much more. The staff work 24 hours a day, every day of the year.

Back to Top

Boating Safety

  • In an emergency, dial 911 from any Florida Keys land or cellular phone. Or contact the United States Coast Guard, via Channel 16, on a marine VHF radio.
  • United States Coast Guard
    http://www.uscgboating.org
  • Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission
    Phone:305-289-2320
    http://myfwc.com/boating
    The Florida Fish & Wildlife Commission is responsible for enforcing safe and environmentally-friendly boating and fishing practices in the Keys. FWC officers patrol docks, bridges and waters.
  • Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary
    Phone 305-292-0311
    http://floridakeys.noaa.gov
    The Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary sets regulations for boating and fishing in the Keys, and offers safe boating tips.

Bicyclist Safety

  • Monroe County Bike/Pedestrian Planner
    Phone: 305-289-2514
    The Monroe County Government is working to make the Keys an even safer destination for bicyclists, hikers and pedestrians.
  • Monroe County Sheriff's Office
    Phone: 305-289-2430
    Sheriff officers patrol U.S. 1, the Overseas Highway, and adjacent areas, and are always ready to provide safety advice.
  • Overseas Heritage Trail
    Phone: 305-853-3571
    Bicyclists are encouraged to use the Overseas Heritage Trail adjacent to the highway wherever the trail is available.
  • Key West City Government
    Phone: 305-809-3877
    http://www.keywestcity.com
    City leaders are happy their historic streets are so popular among bicyclists, and they have established bike lanes and safety rules for them, including a requirement for bike lights at night.

Back to Top

Diver and Snorkeler Safety

  • Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary
    Phone: 305-292-0311 or
    http://floridakeys.noaa.gov
    The Sanctuary provides "Sea Smart" advice for divers and snorkelers.
  • Reef Relief
    Phone: 305-294-3100
    http://reefrelief.org
    This independent group offers the latest science on Life on the Reef, contributes data to the Census of Marine Life, and offers insight and updates on their blog.
  • Decompression Illness
    Divers suspecting decompression illness should seek medical attention immediately at one of the Keys hospitals The staff at these facilities know how to diagnose and treat the condition. If necessary, they will transfer patients to one of two decompression facilities in the Keys. The U.S. military operates a decompression chamber in Key West. The more-often used facility is located in the Upper Keys at Mariner's Hospital

Police/Crime Prevention

Medical/Hospitals

  • In an emergency, dial 911 from any phone in the Florida Keys.
  • Upper Keys
    Mariner's Hospital
    Phone: 305-434-3000
    Mile Marker 91.5, Tavernier
  • Middle Keys
    Fishermen's Hospital
    Phone: 305-743-5533
    Mile Marker 48.7, Marathon
  • Lower Keys and Key West
    Lower Keys Medical Center
    Phone: 305-294-5531
    5900 College Road , Stock Island

Back to Top

Mosquito Protection

For personal comfort and health reasons, it is important to take personal precautions to prevent contact with mosquitoes. This includes the Aedes aegypti mosquito, a freshwater species common to tropical and subtropical regions of the world that has been known to transmit mosquito-borne illnesses through a bite from an infected mosquito. Preventive measures include:

  • Wearing mosquito repellents with DEET, picaridin, or oil of lemon eucalyptus as an active ingredient. Wearing long sleeves and pants, when comfortable to do so, provides additional protection.
  • Dumping standing water in and around homes/vacation rentals, where mosquitoes like to breed, such as coolers, flower pots, buckets or any containers that could retain rainwater.
  • Securing screens on windows and doors, ensuring there are no holes or tears where mosquitoes might gain entry.
  • Using air conditioners when possible.

Back to Top