Hoverboard fires are now threatening to make the must-have Christmas toy a rather dangerous item to give as a gift or simply buy for one’s own enjoyment.
The self-balancing, battery-operated toy is a fire hazard owing to faulty design, and perhaps, rushed production, say officials who have been investigating the fires. Thousands of hoverboards, which have instantly become popular, have been seized by authorities in recent months over concerns they could explode or catch fire, according to the Daily Mail. Reports indicate nine out of ten of these hi-tech devices have a faulty design.
Hoverboards have undoubtedly become the most desired Christmas gift, but a few recent incidents are casting a doubt on their safety. According to ABC News, Jessica Horne lost everything after a hoverboard burst into flames inside her house. Though no one was hurt in the incident, she lost her house to the fire.
Unfortunately, this isn’t an isolated incident. Timothy Cade from Gulf Shores, Ala. claims that the hoverboard he owned for three days “exploded” just a few moments after he started riding it on Friday, reported Mashable.
The mobile video of the hoverboard burning up has gone viral. It shows the toy burning and suddenly shooting something that leaves a small trail of smoke. The owner recorded the video on his phone. The owner confirmed he attempted to douse the flames with baking soda, but that failed to stop the flames. The explosive ejection is most likely the battery pack, according to the owner.
“I came outside turned it on, came down the sidewalk not even a 100 feet, and it exploded. I was yelling my mom’s name, and she ran out with some baking soda because I didn’t know what to put on that type of fire.”
Even water failed to stop the fire, but the family somehow managed to dampen the flames, and the fire extinguished itself a short while later. There is no confirmation about the manufacturer of the hoverboard that caught fire, but the owner revealed he had bought it online for $500. A similar incident in Louisiana gutted a family’s home, reported WGNO.
According to CNN, nearly 90 percent of hoverboards that have been imported to Britain since October have been seized as they could explode or catch fire. Back in America, the Consumer Product Safety Commission has confirmed it has received 20 reports in the last three months of people being injured on hoverboards.
While fires are a grave threat, people falling from hoverboards is one of the most common accidents sending children and adults to the hospital. The authorities reasoned that the toys have a very low center of gravity, which requires a lot of practice to ride. Though the boards are equipped with self-balancing technology, it is up to the rider to steer the toy. Fortunately, concerned parents can read the user manual and limit the top speed that can be achieved by the hoverboard to a mere five miles per hour.
The fires are being caused by faulty electrical accessories and allegedly rushed production that involved cutting a few corners. Experts have indicated that the hoverboards shouldn’t be kept plugged in after they are fully charged. Many of these toys do not have the safety built-in to cut off the source of power, which results in the components overheating and run the risk of catching fire. Experts say manufacturers could have skipped the cut-off devices or used inferior quality switches to cut prices.
Priced between $300 and $500, hoverboards have become a very popular holiday gifting idea. Many of toys were imported through online stores in order to resell them on the domestic market. However, some of the manufacturers have been affixing false compliance stickers, thus both breaking the law and risking the lives of the end user.
Hoverboards aren’t illegal to own due to their low speed, but officials in many regions have restricted their use to sidewalks, parks, and private property.
If the hoverboard is to become a popular toy with true staying power, instead of a flash in the pan fad, the manufacturers must do what is necessary to ensure the safety of their products, and they must do so voluntarily. If they wait until they are forced to improve their product by legislation, or people are killed due to negligent production, the hoverboard will go the way of the Dodo and the Hula Hoop.
[Photo by Christopher Furlong / Getty Images]