A new law requiring carbon monoxide detectors in some boats in Minnesota has been delayed a year.
Sophia’s Law, named for Edina 7-year-old Sophia Baechler, had taken effect last month, but the Legislature has now amended it to take effect May 1, 2018, due to some issues about the availability of marine carbon monoxide detectors.
Minnesota is the first state in the nation to require carbon monoxide detectors on boats. This summer, conservation officers and other law enforcement agencies will be educating boaters about the new law and what they need to do before next summer.
Baechler died in 2015 on Lake Minnetonka when carbon monoxide leaked from a hole in a boat’s exhaust pipe. Carbon monoxide poisoning can happen when the 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, but symptoms include headaches, dizziness, weakness, nausea, vomiting, chest pain and confusion.
The law requires any motorboat with an “enclosed accommodation area” — sleeping areas, galleys with sinks, and toilet compartments — to have a marine-certified carbon monoxide detector. That affects an estimated 8,000 boats in Minnesota.
All motorboats with “an enclosed occupancy space” — smaller areas into which a person might enter — aren’t required to have detectors but 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, and the DNR estimates about 45,000 boats will need the free stickers.
The DNR says battery-powered marine detectors are now available after receiving testing lab approval on May 26 and additional manufacturers are developing marine-grade detectors to increase the supply for boat owners. For information see dnr.state.mn.us.