Consumer Product Safety Commission Releases Statement on Exploding Hoverboards
Hoverboards, which do not actually hover but roll much like a hybrid Segway-skateboard, were one of the hottest gifts for Christmas 2015, in more ways than one. The boards’ lithium-ion batteries proved highly unstable, sparking 22 reported fires in 17 states and prompting several bans on the transport and use of the recreational devices. The danger was not only that the board might ignite during use and burn the user, but that a board could ignite while charging overnight, threatening a house fire.
In response, the Consumer Product Safety Commission investigated the devices and, on January 20, 2016, issued a statement. CPSC Chairman Elliot F. Kaye praised the retail giant Amazon for voluntarily providing a “free remedy” for Hoverboard customers, and urged other retailers to issue full refunds and to stop selling the product until there can be “more certainty regarding their safety.”
He stressed that Underwriters Laboratories has not certified the safety of Hoverboards, so any claims on packaging that a board is UL certified is misleading at best — and at worst might indicate the product is counterfeit.
Chairman Kaye warned that beyond the fire hazard posed by Hoverboards, the current design of the boards may not adequately consider the varying weights of users, so that the speed and movement of the device could be erratic and especially dangerous for first-time users. He warned against fall injuries that are potentially life-altering.
Consumers who continue to use Hoverboards should use extreme caution:
- Keep a working fire extinguisher nearby.
- Charge the device in an open area away from combustible materials.
- Wear protective gear while riding, such as knee and elbow pads, wrist guards and helmets.
- Do not use a Hoverboard on or near a road.
At Barasch McGarry Salzman & Penson, we represent consumers injured by defective products. If you’ve purchased a Hoverboard, please consider returning it to the retailer. If you decide to continue using it, please follow the CPSC instructions above.