A new Minnesota law requiring carbon monoxide detectors in some boats, the most stringent of its kind in the country, is receiving national recognition.
The National Association of State Boating Law Administrators gave state Sen. Melisa Franzen, DFL-Edina, and state Rep. Jerry Hertaus, R-Greenfield, the William Garner Leadership Award for their sponsorship of the legislation, called Sophia’s Law.
The law, named for 7-year-old Sophia Baechler of Edina, requires any motorboat with an “enclosed accommodation area” — sleeping areas, galleys with sinks and toilet compartments — to have a marine-certified carbon monoxide detector.
Sophia died in 2015 on Lake Minnetonka when carbon monoxide leaked from an exhaust pipe on the boat she was riding in.
The law, which was championed by her parents and the state Department of Natural Resources (DNR), was supposed to take effect last summer. But the Legislature amended it to take effect next May because of some issues about the availability of marine carbon monoxide detectors.
Not all motorboats with “an enclosed occupancy space” — smaller areas into which a person might enter — are required to have detectors. But all must have three warning stickers about carbon monoxide poisoning.
Minnesota, which ranks No. 1 in the nation for most boats per capita, has more than 540,000 motorboats. The DNR estimates about 45,000 boats will need the stickers.
For more details, go to mndnr.gov/boatingsafety.
Carbon monoxide poisoning can happen when gas builds up from an idling motor, generator or faulty motor exhaust system. It’s a hidden danger, given that the toxic gas is odorless and invisible. Symptoms include headaches, dizziness, weakness, nausea, vomiting, chest pain and confusion.