These Hoverboards Have a Huge Safety Flaw

December 14th 2015

Alex Mierjeski

The federal government is investigating the safety of the popular toy and personal transportation devices known as hoverboards following multiple reports of spontaneous combustion and injury.

The agency in charge of the investigation, the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC), said it has so far received 10 reports of fires in nine states, and more than 30 reports of people going to emergency rooms, mostly after falling off the devices, ABC News reports.

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"We're asking consumers to tell us, tell the government, if you experience any sort of safety problem with the hoverboard," Scott Wolfson, an agency spokesman, told ABC.

“The CPSC is looking into the safety of the entire product line,” Wolfson told Gizmodo last week. “We have active investigations into incidents that have occurred in California, Ohio, Texas, Louisiana, and Alabama. There have been additional incidents in Florida and Pennsylvania.”

The ongoing probe is just one of a number of regulatory precautions underway against the two-wheeled, self-balancing scooter phenomenon, the like of which can often be seen in malls and in high-traffic shopping areas.

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Officials think the fires might be traced to the lithium ion batteries that operate the devices. For that reason, U.S. airlines — including Delta, United, Southwest, and American — have banned passengers from bringing their hoverboards on flights, according to the Hill. The online retail giant Amazon also pulled a majority of hoverboards from its site, calling on manufacturers to provide documented proof that their products had undergone safety testing.

"As safety is on the forefront for Swagway, we applaud Amazon for taking these steps to weed out the low quality boards and want to note that this removal is NOT specific to Swagway, but includes 97% of the other branded hoverboards that were also selling on there," Swagway, one leading manufacturer, told USA Today.

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As for falling on the boards, the CPSC recommends users gear up with pads and helmets. It said it would not impose regulation before manufacturers took steps to ensure the safety of their products, the Hill reports.

In unrelated hoverboard news, a British man was recently filmed on surveillance cameras stealing energy drinks from a convenience store — all on his hoverboard.