Lack of Safety Standards for Hoverboards Expose Consumers to Fire, Fall Hazards

Lack of Safety Standards for Hoverboards Expose Consumers to Fire, Fall Hazards
Image: Pixabay
December 3, 2015

Hoverboards are flying off the shelf this holiday season, but this item (that now actually exists!) isn't without its dangers.

The United Kingdom is taking drastic steps to ensure that imported hoverboards meet certain safety regulations. According to Mashable, British authorities seized thousands of the items at ports because they did not pass safety checks. Of the 17,000 imported motorized self-balancing devices, 15,000 did not pass inspection.

While no official action has taken place, the product has caught the eye of American agencies. According to CBS News, the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) has received eight reports of emergency room visits related to hoverboards.

In addition to the fall hazard, charging the device has proven to be dangerous. Firefighters in London recently responded to a fire caused by a charging hoverboard. A similar incident was reported in Louisiana.

Unfamiliarity with the new technology is part of the problem. There are no national safety standards for all the different brands sold to consumers.

Says Sean Kane of the Safety Institute, to CBS: "What's the difference? What are the design practices? What are the standards? What is the testing that's being done? And the answer is nobody knows because there aren't any requirements they have to meet."

Cheaply-made counterfeits are common in a flooded marketplace, according to Rilwan Hassan, a franchise owner with IO Moonwalkers, a retailer of high-end hoverboards.

"(A customer) brought a board in to us (that) stopped working and also broke in half, so we decided to open it and check what was wrong with it," Hassan told CBS. "Basically it had duct tape in the wiring, wiring was loose, screws were missing -- it was just terrible quality."

The Safety Institute urges users to wear helmets and pads when on a hoverboards, and to report any problems to the CPSC.