Hoverboard Risks – Fire and Falling

Many of you have heard of Hoverboards as they became very popular last year especially around the holiday gift giving season. They seem innocent enough almost like a skateboard in how one uses it. But there is a BIG difference….a skateboard is powered by humans while the Hoverboard is powered with electricity. Also, on a skateboard one has their 2 feet placed on the skateboard in a manner in which it gives them good balance while on a Hoverboard your feet are side by side and pointed (generally) in the direction that the Hoverboard is taking you. This makes it more difficult to stay balanced on the Hoverboard without falling.

Due to these 2 main differences, the Hoverboard has been the subject of much attention and ridicule. In the past few months, many Hoverboards have been pulled from the market because they can catch fire while using them and/or while they are plugged in charging. Amazon even offered its customers refunds for certain Hoverboard purchased on Amazon.

We urge you to be careful when purchasing and using Hoverboards. Consumers should only buy items which can be verified as safe.

Some things to be aware of in deciding to purchase a Hoverboard:

  1. Look for proof on the box and in the product’s written materials that it meets safety standards.  If you cannot find proof, do not purchase it.
  2. Check the box, charger and the device for markings; such as the name and contact details of the manufacturer. If this information is missing, do not buy it.
  3. Check the manual provided with the product for spelling mistakes and information or instructions which do not make sense.
  4. Check for online reviews that seem genuine.
  5. If you are not fully satisfied that the product you are buying is safe, don’t spend your money on it.
  6. Check the battery and charging device for any damage.
  7. Charge the battery away from anything flammable.
  8. Do NOT leave the battery charging unattended for an extended period of time.

In dealing with the fire issue, as of the end of 2015, there were 16 reported Hoverboard fires in 12 states being investigated by the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission. More were reported worldwide. And these are only the ones that are reported. We imagine there were many other instances of them catching on fire that have not been reported to the governments around the world. Some Hoverboards exploded while charging, some while riding and one as it was apparently just sitting not charging nor being ridden. What’s going on with the Hoverboard and why are they so dangerous?

There is apparently not one single reason why they are catching fire. It also does not appear to be one single manufacturer whose Hoverboards are more prone than others to catching fire — they are manufactured in many factories and mostly overseas. Our research leads us to believe that the fire risk is caused by the rechargeable lithium-ion batteries and defective battery chargers.

These batteries contain cells that are normally separated by electric insulators. When one or more of the insulators are damaged through impact or overcharging, a short circuit could occur. That can lead to the temperature rising to a dangerous level that can, in turn, lead to a fire. Most of the reported fires are occurring during charging. Many times if the batteries are overcharged, the battery becomes overheated and subject to catching on fire. Because of this overcharging risk, the Hoverboard charger should contain a cut-off mechanism which detects when the battery is fully charged, and would stop charging automatically. Also, due to the nature of the Hoverboard with them getting banged around and dropped, the batteries are more susceptible to damage.

If you have a case involving a Hoverboard or would like to discuss any other product liability case, please contact us at 561-266-9191 or by email at daronberg@build.simple.biz.

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