One of the hottest gifts this Holiday season is the Hoverboard, but more and more are hot not because they are popular, but because they have burst into flames. The gliding boards have caught fire in the U.S. and throughout Europe.
Both the National Association of State Fire Marshals and the UK's National Trading Standards are raising a red flag on hoverboards, claiming that they are blowing up across the world.
The national Fire Marshals organization issued an advisory recently, warning that these explosions are "not a unique occurrence," H. Butch Browning Jr., the president of the group's Board of Directors said in a statement.
"The sheer number of incidents occurring around the country, and abroad, is what prompted our organization to address this serious issue on a national level," he said.
Hoverboards are marketed to all age groups with some specifically designed for children.
A Louisiana family lost their home a day after 12-year-old Hayden Carbo got a FitTurbo hoverboard for his birthday. The toy exploded and burned the boy's bedroom and home to a crisp.
"It was like a firework. I saw sparks just flying and before I could yell, the house is on fire," his mother, Jessica Horne said.
On Nov. 28, an 11-year-old Florida girl barely escaped being burned while riding the explosive $300 toy. "She felt it get hot, she jumped off, and it was in flames," Pamela Levine, the girl's mother, told KSHB-TV.
The United Kingdom has taken aggressive moves in clamping down on hoverboards. Officials have detained 15,000 of the devices due to “major safety risks.” Many of the hoverboards had non-compliant plugs without fuses, which can cause the boards to overheat or catch fire.
Cheaper China made knock-offs seem to be the worst of the lot. The less expensive prices are tempting to many people, but even these aren’t cheap. The more expensive models can sell for $1500 -$1700, while the cheaper ones sell for between $350-$500.
If you’re considering buying one of these products for your family, the National Fire Marshal Association offers these safety recommendations:
· Make sure the hoverboard is compliant with federal standards, inspections, and certifications, it will have a mark on it or indicate such on its packaging, on the device itself, or on its charging equipment. Devices not bearing a mark indicating compliance likely have not been tested to meet minimum safety standards.
· When buying online, verify that the device meets applicable standards. There are many of these products on the market, and many may not meet this country's inspection and safety requirements. Those that do will indicate such on the packaging, and on the device or its charging equipment.
· Buy a device with a warranty, or buy it in person at a brick and mortar store. If you are buying online, buy from a reputable source. Also, check with your retailer regarding the safety of the device you are purchasing.
When charging your self-balancing scooter or hoverboard:
· After it has been used, give the device time to cool off prior to charging.
· Do not leave the device unattended while it is charging. Someone should be able to observe the device during its recharging time.
· Do not overcharge the device; follow manufacturer's recommended charging times and do not leave device plugged into an outlet overnight.
· Do not use imitation electrical chargers, as they may be unsafe.
· Keep to one plug per socket.
The segue-way like boards are becoming more and more popular, and the desire to own one is high. Like any other in-demand item, knock-offs move quickly into the marketplace. These unregulated and expensive hoverboards can be dangerous to your home and family. If your child has a hoverboard, make sure an adult is always present when they ride or charge it.
Sources: Alfred NG, http://www.nydailynews.com/news/world/hoverboards-blowing-uk-officials-article-1.2457027
Jeremy Gray, http://www.al.com/news/index.ssf/2015/12/hoverboard_safety_fire_marshal.html