A law that requires certain types of boats to have carbon monoxide detectors is now in effect, making Minnesota the first state to require CO detectors on motorboats.
Sophia's Law is named after 7-year-old Sophia Baechler, who died from carbon monoxide poisoning while resting in a sleeping area of a boat on Lake Minnetonka in October 2015.
Her family lobbied for a change in law to require carbon monoxide detectors with the hope of preventing any future tragedies.
CO detectors, stickers required
The law requires any motorboat – regardless of the type of fuel it uses – that has a sleeping area, galley area with a sink, and a toilet compartment, to have a hard-wired, marine-certified carbon monoxide detector.
And any gas-powered boat with any type of enclosed area must have three warning stickers that warn boaters of the dangers of carbon monoxide poisoning.
The stickers aren't yet available due to a shipping delay, but DNR officials told FOX 9 they'll be available at agencies across the state in the next few days.
If you violate the law once, you'll get a safety warning. Any additional violations are a petty misdemeanor, the DNR's website says.
Carbon monoxide and boats
Carbon monoxide from engine exhaust can build up inside and outside boats in areas near exhaust vents, the CDC notes. The agency urges people to stay away and not swim near the areas while propulsion engines or generators are running.
Although carbon monoxide exposure is possible with boats, it’s not all that common. In 2015, there were 13 reported incidents of carbon monoxide poisoning while boating – eight people died and 14 people were injured, according to the United States Coast Guard's 2015 report.