Visitor Safety

Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission 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.

For personal comfort and health reasons, it is important to take personal precautions to prevent contact with mosquitoes.

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:

Subscribe to Critical Information Alerts

  • Receive Critical Information Alerts and other Florida Keys community news, delivered to your email, mobile phone or as a text message. Register here.

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
  • Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission
    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
    The Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary sets regulations for boating and fishing in the Keys, and offers safe boating tips.
  • Learn More About Boating & On the Water in the Florida Keys

Bicycling Safety

  • Monroe County Bike/Pedestrian Planner
    The Monroe County Government is working to make the Keys an even safer destination for bicyclists, hikers and pedestrians.
  • Monroe County Sheriff's Office
    Sheriff officers patrol U.S. 1, the Overseas Highway, and adjacent areas, and are always ready to provide safety advice.
  • Overseas Heritage Trail
    Bicyclists are encouraged to use the Overseas Heritage Trail adjacent to the highway wherever the trail is available.
  • Key West City Government
    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.

Diving/Snorkeling Safety

  • Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary
    305-292-0311 or
    The Sanctuary provides "Sea Smart" advice for divers and snorkelers.
  • Reef Relief
    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.

Celebrate The Sun, Protect Your Skin


In the Florida Keys & Key West we celebrate spectacular sunrises and gorgeous sunsets. Key West even hosts nightly sunset celebrations. Catch the best early morning red, pink and purple colors shortly before sunrise, and watch as the best hues of sunset appear soon after it sets.

What about in between? The sun’s rays can be strong in the subtropics, reflecting off sand, water and even the clouds during an overcast afternoon. Most recommended by locals as the best sun protection are wide-brimmed hats and UV sun protection clothing such as UPF 50-rated apparel.

Regularly apply environmentally safe sunscreen to enjoy your vacation without sunburn.

Police/Crime Prevention

Florida Keys Have Open Container Laws

Feel free to bring coolers and refreshments to visit our public beaches and parks facilities. No alcohol, please. The Florida Keys & Key West do enforce open container laws that prohibit open containers of alcohol on most public beaches, parks and streets; including world-famous Duval Street. Be mindful of signs that indicate where alcohol containers are prohibited.

Hospitals & Medical Attention

  • In an emergency, dial 911 from any phone in the Florida Keys.
  • Upper Keys
    Mariner's Hospital
    Mile Marker 91.5, Tavernier
  • Middle Keys
    Fishermen's Hospital
    Mile Marker 48.7, Marathon
  • Lower Keys and Key West
    Lower Keys Medical Center
    5900 College Road, Stock Island

Coronavirus Information

COVID-19, the disease caused by the novel coronavirus, has created significant concerns among travelers.

The health and safety of Florida Keys visitors and residents are a top priority.

Visitors are asked to remain calm and make sure they have information from trusted resources.

A dedicated Coronavirus Information page can be found by clicking here.

Mosquito Protection

The Aedes aegypti mosquito is 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.