BETHESDA, Md. — Consumers want and deserve answers about the safety of hoverboards. I have directed agency staff to work non-stop to find the root cause of the fire hazard, how much of a risk it might present, and to provide consumers with answers as soon as possible.
The challenge is to move quickly but also thoroughly and carefully to find out why certain hoverboards caught fire. Every consumer who is riding a hoverboard, who purchased one to give as a gift during the holidays, or who is thinking about buying one deserves to know if there is a safety defect.
CPSC field investigators are actively investigating hoverboard-related fires across the country and will open new cases as they come to our attention. We have purchased boards in the marketplace and we have taken possession of boards that caught fire.
CPSC engineers in our National Product Testing and Evaluation Center in Maryland have tested and will continue to test new and damaged boards in search of an answer for why some models caught fire during the charging stage and others caught fire while in use. Our expert staff is looking particularly closely at the configuration of the battery packs and compatibility with the chargers.
While the fire hazard has generated significant attention, I do not want to downplay the fall hazard. CPSC has received dozens of reports of injuries from hospital ERs that we have contracts with and they continue to feed us real-time data.
Some of these injuries have been serious, including concussions, fractures, contusions/abrasions, and internal organ injuries. Always wear a proper helmet and padding while using this product.
I am also concerned that there is no safety standard in place for hoverboards. Strong safety standards protect consumers.
Retailers should always be asking their suppliers if there is an applicable safety standard in place before agreeing to sell those products. The absence of any standard should cause retailers to require extra proof of sound design, manufacturing and quality control processes.
For those who are using a hoverboard (or what some companies are calling a smart board or balance board), here are some tips, based on what we know so far, to help reduce the risk of an incident:
- Avoid buying the product at a location (like a mall kiosk) or on a website that does not have information about who is selling the product and how they can be contacted if there is a problem. If you do not think you could find the seller again, were a problem to arise with your board, that should be a warning to you not to do business with them.
- Do not charge a hoverboard overnight or when you are not able to observe the board.
- Charge and store in an open dry area away from combustibles (meaning items that can catch fire).
- Do not charge directly after riding. Let the device cool for an hour before charging.
- If giving a hoverboard to someone for the holidays, leave it in its partially charged state. Do not take it out of the package to bring it to a full charge and then wrap it back up. Often, the product comes partially charged. Leave it in that state until it is ready to be used.
- Look for the mark of a certified national testing laboratory. While this does not rule out counterfeits, the absence of such a mark means your safety is likely not a priority for that manufacturer.
- Do not ride near vehicular traffic.
- This tip needs to be reiterated: It is important to wear safety gear when using a hoverboard. We recommend the same safety gear that you would wear when riding a skateboard — a skateboard helmet, and knee and elbow pads and wrist guards for protection from falls
We urge consumers to report incidents to CPSC via www.SaferProducts.gov.
We know this is a popular product during this holiday season, and we are doing everything possible to determine if consumers are at risk. We will keep the public up-to-date with new information as it becomes available.
By Elliot F. Kaye / Chairman, U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission