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Are Hoverboards Safe for Consumers?

>> Feb 3, 2016

The Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) is a United States agency whose aim is to protect consumers from unsafe products that can result in injuries or death when used. The CPSC works with companies to help create voluntary industry-specific safety standards and, in some cases, will impose mandatory restrictions when voluntary ones cannot be agreed upon.

As a preventative measure, the CPSC has the authority to ban products altogether if no amount of safety standards would protect the general public from unnecessary injuries. They may also issue recalls to reduce the risk of further injuries when a product is known to be unsafe.

When a Product’s Safety Is Unknown

In some cases, the CPSC may receive enough complaints from consumers that warrantan investigation into the safety of a particular product. When a product’s safety is questionable, the CPSC will conduct a variety of safety tests at their National Product Testing and Evaluation Center in Rockville, Maryland.

The results of these tests will determine what, if any, safety standards the CPSC will set. In January 2016, the CPSC saw a surge in the number of consumer complaints about hoverboards. These boards allow riders to “drive” by using the subtle movement of their torsos, legs, and feet.
The number of hoverboards that made their way into U.S. households over the holiday season resulted in a huge increase in accidents causing injury, that brought into question the safety of these so-called smartboards.

Hoverboard Fires

To date, dozens of indoor and outdoor fires have resulted from the use of hoverboards, or self-balance boards as they are also called. While no one has been seriously injured in these incidents, fires caused by smartboards can lead to serious injuries or even death.

In order to address the public’s concern regarding hoverboards, the CPSC has begun testing the safety of several self-balancing boards including those made or sold by:
·         Hoverboard360.com
·         Uwheels
·         E-Rover Smart Balance Wheel
·         YOOLIKED
·         One Stop Electronic Inc.
This is just a sample of the approximately one dozen retailers and/or manufacturers the CPSC is actively investigating for safety.


Investigating the Cause of Hoverboard Fires

At this time, the CSPC doesn’t know what is causing hoverboards to burst into flames. However, their investigation has been heavily focused on the lithium-ion battery packs these units use as well as the circuit board that helps operate them. Overheating and ultimately combustion can result in products that use lithium-ion batteries without proper safety designs that prevent them from getting too hot.


Additional Safety Hazards

The CSPC isn’t just concerned about the risk of fire when using hoverboards. They’ve also taken notice of the rise of emergency room visits and serious injuries sustained by consumers when riding the self-balance boards.
As such, the CSPC has broadened the scope of their investigation to include the potential for falls when operating a hoverboard.


What is Being Done to Protect Consumers?

As the CSPC looks into fire and fall risks associated with hoverboards, a number of companies, groups, and agencies are taking a proactive approach to protect consumers. The world’s largest online retailer, Amazon, has voluntarily offered refunds to customers who return self-balance boards purchased through their site. 

Colleges and universities are banning hoverboard usage on campus to keep students safe from potential falls and fires that could quickly spread.

A number of government agencies, including the Federal Aviation Administration and U.S. Department of Transportation, are working closely with the CSPC in an attempt to put an end to fire and fall hazards as soon as possible.

Since there are currently no set safety standards for hoverboards, consumers are strongly urged to use caution when riding one. Some things consumers can do to reduce their risk of injury include keeping a working fire extinguisher nearby, wearing protective gear, and keeping away from roadways.

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