Nation’s first law requiring carbon monoxide detectors on boats takes effect

Yesterday a new state law took effect in Minnesota requiring carbon monoxide detectors on certain boats.

The law, known as “Sophia’s Law,” now requires marine-certified carbon monoxide detectors on all covered motorboats with an enclosed area for sleeping and a galley with a sink and toilet compartments. The detectors can be either hardwired or battery operated.

Other boats with enclosed areas that don’t have a sink and toilet areas are required to post three warning stickers about the dangers of carbon monoxide: at the helm, in or at the entrance to any enclosed occupancy space, and at the after boarding/stern area.

With Sophia’s Law taking effect, Minnesota will be the first state in the country to require the carbon monoxide detectors on boats.

The is the result of an October 2015 incident in which eight-year-old Sophia Baechler died while napping on her family’s boat in the lower cabin on Lake Minnetonka. She was in the cabin for about 10 minutes before dying from carbon monoxide poisoning.

Investigators later discovered a hole in the exhaust that allowed carbon monoxide to fill the sleeping area. While rare, the Baechler family pushed to change the law to avoid another preventable death.

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