In the words of Mayor Renán Barrera, “Mérida, the safest city in Mexico, has a citizen agenda that is an example to follow in matters of security and public order, thanks in large part to the work of our police corporations. If something distinguishes Mérida in terms of security, it is precisely the prevention actions of the municipal police corporation, as well as the high-quality human capital that integrates it, which forms the first link to build safe cities.” From Hurricanes to Mosquitoes, Safety Tips for Mérida Mexico is one of the most important articles to bookmark for your visit to Mérida!
- Mexico’s safest city.
- The safest city in Latin America.
- The second safest city in North America.
- Considered as safe as Europe.
This article was updated in June of 2023.
Mérida is Mexico’s safest city and the safest city in Latin America.
Possibly, one of the primary reasons Merida is so safe is due to a large amount of police scattered throughout the city.
The city of Mérida police force is strategically placed all over the city to support, guide, and mostly keep things under control. Extra police officers are added to the Centro (City Center) patrol beat to watch over tourists namely around banks, ATMs, restaurants, and transportation hubs to prepare for high-season which is October through March.
Because Mérida is not on a beach, many people come for the tranquility, arts, culture, food, and history.
The 3 MOST Dangerous Things in Mérida
- Heat – Plan accordingly with sunscreen, hat, or umbrella. You’ll be grateful to have a light wrap or sweater with you due to the change between the outside heat and the inside air-conditioning.
- Mosquitoes – Always carry repellent with you. A great trick I found is that hand-sanitizer takes the sting out of bites.
- Sidewalks – Wear comfortable shoes, watch when stepping on and off of curbs. Don’t multitask or look down. Be aware of where you place your feet at all times.
General Safety Tips for Mérida Mexico
- Don’t leave valuables in sight in your home or car where anyone might be tempted.
- Don’t give keys to your housekeeper, gardener or pool man.
- Always be home when any service provider is at your home.
- Pay attention to your gut instinct – it is always right.
- Always be aware of your surroundings and who is around you.
- If you are walking at night, keep an eye and ear out for unusual activity around you.
- Avoid dark streets is one of the most important safety tips for Mérida Mexico.
- Don’t bring anything to Mérida you can’t afford to lose.
- Never keep all of your money in one place. Keep a little bit in your wallet for easy access and the majority of it in another part of your wallet, purse, or bag.
- Keep copies of passports and FMM card (unless directed by authorities to keep your original documents on you – normally this only happens in times of emergency – similar to COVID).
- Do not ever allow the police to take your ID, passport, or license tags.
UBER Safety Tips for Mérida Mexico
There are times when we may not feel as safe as we can. This is normal when traveling or living in a foreign country. At times, our “gut instinct” will warn us about potential situations that may not be in our best interest.
You can take safety precautions that may help you feel better, especially if you are alone and/or a woman.
Safety is the number one priority of any ride platform you take such as Uber.
- Remember, you have the option to terminate your ride at any time.
- If the driver is acting inappropriately or asking too many personal questions, don’t feel like you have to respond. This may be a time to choose to terminate the ride.
- You can check the door to see if the child-lock has been enabled. This is a small lever on the inside panel of the car door that is visible when the door is open. Take a quick moment to check this if it makes you feel better.
- More than likely, when your driver arrives, the back door will be locked. Wait for the driver to unlock the door and always, always sit in the back. If nothing else, this gives you separation from the driver.
As soon as I get in the car, I always check to ensure that the windows are not locked as well.
There are safety features for those who feel uncomfortable getting in a car with a stranger.
- When requesting your ride, swipe up and you can share your ride with up to 5 people.
- You can also do this within Whatsapp by hitting the paperclip icon, tapping the location and then tapping “share live location”. There is an option to share for 15 min or 1 hour or 24 hours, etc.
- You can send a link to a friend so that they can track your route via the UBER app. You can also share your driver’s information, car, and eta.
- The driver is made aware you’ve shared the trip info and knows someone is waiting for you. They aren’t any wiser if you just text yourself which I do if it is late at night or early in the morning.
REMEMBER . . .
If, at any time, you feel unsafe – tell them the following, “Disculpe, por favor ……terminado.” and get out of the car.
I have only had one bad experience where the very young driver was texting during the ride and acting slightly erratic. I was very close to my house so I stayed in the car.
Once I arrived, I immediately reported him to Uber (you have to use the app) as recommended by safety tips for Mérida Mexico. A representative called within an hour to get the issue resolved and refunded my money for that ride.
Pharmacy Safety tips for Mérida Mexico
Just like anything else you purchase outside of your home country, be cautious and careful. Buying medicine in Mexico can be extremely beneficial such as:
- lower costs
- ease of purchase
Thousands upon thousands of people cross the border annually to purchase medications at lower costs. As you might expect, easy access to medications leads to self-diagnosis, prescribing, and, at times, unpredictable results. While pharmaceuticals can be a huge bargain, ensure you know what you are getting.
While the FDA oversees the U.S. drug industry, prescription drugs in Mexico are not as heavily regulated. Buyers should be cautious and ask questions before purchasing.
- How is the medication stored and handled?
- If it is refrigerated medication, has it been kept at the correct temperature?
- Does the medication have an expiration date?
- Don’t purchase your medication from anyone other than a legitimate pharmacy.
- Be sure to thoroughly inspect the packaging.
- Don’t accept it if you have second thoughts.
Driving Safety Tips for Mérida Mexico
Driving in another country can be particularly daunting and you’ll find driving in Mérida will be quite different than driving in other parts of the Yucatan Peninsula.
If you’ve ever driven in other parts of Mexico, you’ll know driving in the Yucatan is a luxury with well-maintained highways. Not surprisingly, smaller streets can have their share of potholes. While larger potholes seem to appear after periods of harsh rainy storms, they eventually get filled.
You’ve heard this advice a million times –
Go slow, watch the streets, and look out for the numerous vehicles and pedestrians. You’ll also want to pay careful attention to cars stopping in front of you to allow their passengers to get out of the car. Uber drivers are notorious for stopping quickly on both the left and the right-hand sides of the street.
Most importantly, ensure you arrive into the city limits of Mérida at least one hour before dark. Driving in Mérida can be quite tricky as the streets are difficult to navigate. Many streets are one way and not visibly marked. In addition to this, street parking can be a challenge as it is very limited. Therefore, you may consider renting a house with off-street parking to alleviate any parking issues.
21 Safety Tips for Driving in Mérida
#1 Drive “The Mexican Way”
Observe how the locals drive and fall into their examples. You’ll eventually find your way that is a combination of locals, expats, and foreigners.
#2 Street Parking
While there are some parking lots and garages around town, typically found in grocery stores or malls, parking can be a challenge. Street parking is to be used with caution. Dents and dings are common. As well as the person that pulls up so close behind you that you can’t get out of your parking place.
- Don’t feel like you can park anywhere you want.
- Don’t assume if someone else did it, then you can too.
#3 Speed Limits
I would say the majority of Mexicans do not speed. Any kind of traffic offense leads to dealing with the police, it’s better not to do it. Drivers go along with the flow of traffic. So if the speed limit says 40 and the flow of traffic is at 50, then maintain a speed that feels safe and legal for you.
#4 One-way Streets
While driving in Mérida, you’ll find a system of one-way streets that grid the city. You’ll know the directions by one of these things:
- There may be a small direction arrow on the street sign located on the corner of a building. The street signs are usually a square with the number of the street on them.
- Look at the direction the cars are facing (this is not a hard and fast rule, though).
- Notice which way the signs are facing.
#5 Mexican Speed Bumps
From a rope across the road to dots on the road to larger humps and massive bumps, all these are used to reduce your speed.
#6 Passing Tips
While the culture of Mexico is a slower pace, this does not apply when driving. If you are going slow, stay in the right lane, or get ready to go with the flow of traffic. On highways, only pass on the left such as the left-hand lane. On smaller roads, like the one you’ll take for a day trip, maintain your speed legally. If another car comes up behind you, pull carefully to the shoulder, and allow them to pass.
Unfortunately, the police are not well respected in Mexico. For this reason, it is an absolute necessity to be overly respectful. If you do get pulled over for any reason, normally the first thing you will hear is about “el respeto” or respect. This is another one of the most important safety tips for Mérida Mexico.
#8 Mexican Car Insurance
There are 2 very important reasons to purchase insurance on your rental car:
- At times, insurance offered by your credit card or your local insurance company does not cover you in Mexico.
- If you get pulled over by the police, they may ask to see a copy of your rental agreement. They are looking to ensure you have proper insurance in the event of an accident. If you don’t have insurance on your contract, they may write you a ticket.
#9 Right on Red
No, the rule for turning right is indicated by the sign marked “Continua”. This means you can turn right with caution as oncoming traffic has the right of way.
Yes, there are cross-walks for pedestrians so be sure you know what these look like. Knowing when you need to pause for people crossing the street is important. However, pedestrians do not have the right of way. It is up to the pedestrian to watch out, pause, or stop to defer to the oncoming traffic.
#11 Large & in Charge
You’ll find a plethora of vehicles on the road. Not surprisingly, the largest vehicle will rule the road. Yes, trucks are large but buses are bigger and more intimidating.
Mexico has some perfectly fine traffic laws, but they tend to be viewed as suggestions more than rules, or perhaps many drivers are just oblivious – it’s hard to know which.
Do not move your car and wait until the police arrive to answer any questions. In the event someone is hurt, you may be detained until the person at fault is determined. Sometimes the police will impound your vehicle, it will depend on the circumstances.
#14 Day Drive Before Night Driving
Learning to navigate the narrow streets, watching out for smaller vehicles including motorcycles and bicycles during the day will help you at night.
#15 Two-way Streets to One-way Streets
You’re finally driving in Mérida and so proud of yourself. But wait, the two-way street you were on turned into a one-way street without any warning. If people are waving at you, they are trying to tell you that you are going the wrong way.
#16 Pumping Gas
Remember, gas stations have attendants that will direct you into the proper lane to have your gas tank filled.
#17 City Layout
On the grid of Mérida, even-numbered streets run north-south while odd-numbered streets run east-west. Most of these streets are one way. An important factor to note is that numbering begins anew in each colonia or neighborhood of the city.
#18 Lane Marking
Narrow, neighborhood streets typically don’t have any type of lane indicators. On some, you may find faded yellow crosswalk lines with a white line indicating where you should stop at a red light. Don’t take for granted that you’ll see visible lines on larger streets either.
Yes, there are rules. However, I’ve yet to determine the hard and fast rules for actually using the lanes, which ones to use if you need to go all the way around or if you are making just a quick right turn.
Motorcycles of all sizes including scooters zip in and out of traffic at lighting speed. Use special caution when driving because these smaller methods of transportation can creep up on you in a hurry.
#21 Green Angels
If you break down, there is a free service called Green Angels. Think about the Mexican equivalent to Triple-A. This helpful bilingual crew patrols federal highways and toll roads throughout Mexico to help stranded motorists.
If your vehicle breaks down, pull over to the side of the road. Lift the hood to signal them. Call the phone number: 01-800-987-8224. If you have an emergency, you can also dial 078. Although this service is free, be sure to tip your helpful crew.
Mosquito Safety Tips for Mérida Mexico
For the most part, mosquito bites in Mexico are just plain annoying. While the risk of contracting a disease is low, it is still something to be aware of. When a mosquito bites, they mix the blood of the host with the saliva in their mouth which can carry diseases. But you should still be aware of the diseases you can contract when bitten by a mosquito.
Mosquito-borne diseases include:
- Yellow Fever
- Dengue Fever
- Zika Virus
While the chance of contracting Malaria from mosquitoes in Mexico is very low, the U.S. Center for Disease Control advises pregnant women and their partners to take special precautions due to the risk of Zika Virus. Also watch out for Dengue Fever, especially in the jungle and mangrove areas.
Dengue Fever Symptoms
- Aches and pains – muscle, joint, or bone pain
- Eye pain – typically behind the eyes
What’s more . . .
I have a few friends that have contracted Dengue Fever and reported that it feels like the flu, except worse. Fortunately, they have all recovered and are well.
Zika Virus Symptoms
- Itching all over the body
- High temperature
- Joint pain (with possible swelling, mainly in the smaller joints of the hands and feet)
- Muscle pain
- Red eyes (conjunctivitis)
- Lower back pain
If you think you have been bitten by a mosquito and present any of these symptoms, go to your nearest clinic or hospital.
7 Tips for Mosquitoes in Mérida
- Mosquito repellent, traditional and natural
The most common way to prevent bites is wearing insect repellent on your skin. Traditional synthetic repellents typically use DEET as the active ingredient. There are also repellents made with natural oils.
- Best clothing to wear during the day and night
During the hottest parts of the day, mosquitos are not as prevalent. Dress first for the weather and then for the mosquitos is my rule. After dusk, you may consider wearing long-sleeved shirts or pants (or both).
- Protecting windows and doors
One of the things I enjoy the most is the cross-breeze in my home. Being able to open doors and windows is refreshing however NOT when the mosquitoes think it is an open invitation to come in. Some homes are equipped with screens. However, if you do not have screens, I highly recommend installing them anywhere and everywhere you might leave a door or window open.
- Candles, coils, and incense
Citronella is one of the most common ingredients for repelling mosquitos because they don’t like the smell. You will find this ingredient in many products for this reason. Sandalwood is a popular fragrance of incense that mosquitos don’t like either. Locally, you will be able to find items with these ingredients as well as popular coils.
- Electronic devices
Admittedly, I have never used an electronic device however I know some people swear by them. There are quite a few to choose from including small plug-in devices using either oil or emitting a high-frequency sound, and hanging devices for patios and exterior places. By far, the most popular one I’ve seen looks like a small tennis racket that you swat the mosquito with.
- After-care products
Yet another safety tips for Mérida Mexico, if you experience large blisters you may need to have a professional look at the area to recommend treatment. it is possible to be allergic to mosquito bites and the mosquitoes in Mérida are quite different than the ones in other countries, especially the U.S. I keep a small roll-on bottle of essential oil blends to treat the bites I get. This helps relieve both the itch and the swollen area. I’ve also found that hand sanitizer takes the sting out of bites too.
- Reducing breeding ground areas
Mosquitoes need water to breed, it’s just that simple. To prevent these moist habitats, frequently check both inside and outside your home for standing water. Inside, mosquitos love laundry and utility areas. Outside look for standing or stagnant water in garden ponds and unused fountains. Be sure to overturn water buckets and any other containers that collect water, no matter how small.
Mérida Hospital Tips
Mérida offers world-class medical services because of its superior infrastructure of facilities and professionals. Hospitals and clinics in Mérida provide a range of specialties comparable to Europe and North America. Doctors, consultants, highly-trained staff, surgery facilities, recovery rooms, clinical analysis laboratories, and additional dedicated treatment facilities are generally quite affordable compared to many other countries.
If you need to go to the hospital, keep these tips in mind:
- It is ALWAYS recommended to have your medical history with you. More often than not, it takes time for doctors or facilities here to obtain records from your practitioners back home. It is also better to be safe than sorry, especially if there is an existing issue.
- Conduct due diligence and be prepared prior to your arrival. Research and locate the hospitals in Mérida, Mexico, and clinics close to where your accommodations are located.
- If you have a medical issue, also be sure to find the clinic or hospital that can treat you. A clinic may also be a better choice than a hospital in the event you have a specialized problem.
The worst thing that can happen is to need a hospital or clinic and
not be able to find one due to being in a panic or an emergency situation.
You’ll also find private hospitals in Mérida, Mexico like StarMedica and Clinica Mérida will accept anyone who can pay. Don’t take it for granted that your medical insurance will also cover emergencies or procedures while you are out of the country. You may also want to explore travel insurance as well.
If you do end up needing emergency services, don’t panic. More than likely the prices are also probably less than what you would pay out of pocket for the same services back home. Unlike in the USA, you do not necessarily have to go to a hospital for surgery. At the current time in Mérida, you’ll find close to twenty different clinics that also provide surgical and recovery services.
Drinking Water Safety Tips for Mérida Mexico.
The most frequently asked question when you are getting ready to travel to Mexico is, “Is the water safe?” I can say that I have NEVER been sick from the food or water in Mexico. Maybe it’s because I’ve learned a few tips and tricks over the years which I will share with you here.
To be completely safe, only drink the water if it is bottled water.
I think we could all agree that it’s a possibility that Americans don’t have enough germs in their system. In the US, there is a larger use of antibacterial products and ultimately, we need to have some good bacteria to fight the bad bacteria. When we travel, regardless of the location, we are subjected to germs and foreign germs.
Most locals don’t drink water. Actually, they don’t drink a lot of water, period. When in Rome, or in this case when in Mexico, do as the locals do and don’t drink the tap water.
To stay as healthy as possible, consider the following recommendations:
- Use bottled water to brush teeth.
- Avoid swallowing water in the shower.
- Avoid eating lettuce or salads in a restaurant (even the best restaurants).
- Use a food-safe cleaning product for washing fruits and vegetables (research the best one for you).
- Avoid putting your water into a ceramic or pottery container (called a garrafone).
- Do not reuse/refill plastic bottles.
- For large water bottles, ensure the cap is a seal with protective plastic.
Hurricane Season Safety Tips
Due to its proximity to the Gulf of Mexico, Mérida experiences hurricanes about every 15 years. The last two hurricanes were Wilma in October of 2005 and Isidore in 2002. Therefore when hurricanes happen in the Yucatan Peninsula, it is possible for them to hit Merida as well. The last two hurricanes to hit the state capital were Isidore in 2002 and Wilma in 2005.
Right on time, heavy rainfall starts the last week of May and continues into the first part of June. This is also the hottest and most humid time of year as well. Mérida experiences tropical storms as well as hurricanes. It’s important to know when is hurricane season in Mérida Mexico?
Hurricane season is June through November.
While the actual season begins on June 1 and ends on November 30, hurricanes do happen outside of this time frame. The National Hurricane Center has the ability to both predict and track these massive storm systems. On average, these storm systems occur 12 times annually in the Atlantic basin.
14 Tips for Hurricanes in Mérida
- Fully charge all electronics including phones, back-up power packs, laptops, etc.
- Place all important papers, personal items, and jewelry in zip-lock bags. Then place in another large trash bag. Ensure it is airtight.
- Gather all towels and place them in trash bags.
- Find candles, towels, lighters, and matches and place them in ziplock bags.
- Place liquids such as soap, detergent, hand-sanitizer, vinegar, Clorox, mosquito and bug spray, etc. in an upright container such as a crate.
- Ensure I have enough water in plastic containers for a minimum of 2 weeks.
- Remove all glasses, dishes, and other breakables from high shelves.
- Clean out “safe room” and outfit with chairs, blankets (in trash bags), and other essential items. My safe room is the laundry room which is in the middle of the house and protected from glass. It has storage shelving where I can place all of my emergency and essential items during a storm. If you don’t have a laundry room, choose a closet or another room towards the center of your home. The room will choose is an imperative part of the safety tips for Mérida Mexico.
- Locate battery-powered AM/FM radio, flashlight and extra batteries.
- Place canned food, drinking water, can opener and other food items in a lidded container.
- Collect plastic bags and any other bags from around the house (useful to use for many things during a storm).
- Gather all medications, pain relievers, first-aid kit items and place in ziplock bags.
- Get clothes and shoes arranged such as tennis shoes/closed-toed shoes, t-shirts, jeans/long pants and jackets. I have at least 3-4 changes of clothes with me and 2-3 pairs of shoes, all closed-toe.
- I fill all buckets and large containers with water from the pool and keep in the bathrooms. I’ve learned that you can use the toilet in Merida even if you lose water or electricity. Simply pour a full bucket of water down the toilet and it clears the contents. if this does not work, line the toilet with trash bags that you can remove as needed.
Once you experience your first tropical storm, you will have a better idea of what else you might need to help you stay safe and comfortable.
Final Thoughts on Safety Tips for Mérida Mexico
When you are looking at visiting Mérida and trying to decide where to stay, utilize Google Maps or Google Earth to check out your surroundings. You can virtually see the area to become familiar with it. If you feel uncomfortable, find another location, and do the same. Pay attention to the date on the images for safety tips for Mérida Mexico. Some may be older however you will still be able to get a feel for the area.
Remember, like any city of a million people, petty crime and property theft do happen. However, in Mérida violent crime is rare. Most crimes that occur here are crimes of opportunity – not preplanned.
Be aware of your surroundings at all times and if you need more information, find more resources here: https://www.facebook.com/groups/lifeinmerida