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New carbon monoxide law aimed at saving boaters

In advance of the 2018 boating season, Minnesota will be the first state in the nation to require carbon monoxide detectors and warning stickers on certain boats. Sophia’s Law, named after 7-year-old Sophia Baechler, who died tragically from carbon monoxide poisoning while on her family’s boat, takes effect May 1.

“Carbon monoxide is a hidden danger,” said Adam Block, boating law administrator for the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources. “The deadly gas is odorless, invisible and closely mimics signs of intoxication or seasickness. Even at low levels, carbon monoxide can be lethal.”

Under the new law, functioning, marine-grade carbon monoxide detectors must be installed in recreational motorboats with a designated sleeping accommodation, a galley area with a sink, and a toilet compartment. For all gasoline-powered motorboats with an enclosed occupancy compartment, three carbon monoxide warning stickers are required. The stickers must be attached at the helm, the enclosed occupancy space and the stern.

Warning stickers and information about the dangers of carbon monoxide while boating were mailed to registered boat owners in the spring of 2017. Stickers also can be found at all Minnesota deputy registrars and many marinas and marine dealers.

“As the land of 10,000 lakes, it makes good sense for Minnesota to lead the charge in boating safety,” Block said. “Sophia’s Law was designed to protect boaters from the dangers of carbon monoxide and prevent future tragedies from happening.”

More details on Sophia’s Law are at www.mndnr.gov/boatingsafety.