The hoverboard may have been the go-to gift this holiday season but it’s costing its owners more than just the price tag. Many are calling to question the safety of the electric, two-wheeled, self-balancing scooter as the number of injury reports associated with the product continues to rise. According to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) there have been 70 reported emergency room visits due to hoverboards since August 2015. Additionally, CPSC launched an investigation into 22 reports of hoverboard fires in 17 states.
In order to operate the product an individual must control its cruising speed, up to 10 miles per hour, with his or her weight by leaning forward or backwards. An underestimation of how fast the board can go in conjunction with an individual’s failure to use a helmet creates a dangerous situation for the user.
In a report published by Consumer Reports, Aaron Ohebshalom an 11-year old boy suffered a serious head injury after trying out his friend’s hoverboard without a helmet. When he mounted the board, it speed out from underneath him causing him to lose control and fall. Ohebshalom suffered from a subdural hematoma, bleeding on the brain above the left eye, and his recovery process lasted well over a month.
Head and body injuries aren’t the only hazards owners of these products should be weary of. Four days after Christmas, in Brooklyn a young boy’s brand-new hoverboard caught fire as it was being charged inside his family sixth-floor apartment. The blaze was soon extinguished thanks to a quick fire department response, but similar reports have been cited nationwide and internationally.
With fire hazard reports mounting, the global online retailer Amazon has removed most hoverboard brands from their site. According to Swagway, the most popular hoverboard retailer, Amazon had sent out a notice to all sellers “to provide documentation demonstrating that all hoverbards you list are compliant with applicable safety standards.” Other Internet retailers have since then followed Amazon’s and also pulled the electric scooter products from their sites.
Riders are not the only ones at risk for injuries. Hoverboards can place pedestrians, cyclists and motorists at risk for injuries, should the user be unable to maneuver or stop the fast-moving device. Due to risks to public safety, city officials made the use of a hoverboard on the street, highway, parking lot or sidewalk illegal in New York City. Those who break the law could potentially face a fine up to $200.
If you or a loved one has purchased a hoverboard this holiday season, take steps to ensure their safety by supervising their use of the product, making sure they wear a helmet as well as wrist guards and knee and elbow pads. Exercise caution when in the presence of other people and do not operate the hoverboard while texting or talking on a cellphone. Do not leave the charging device unattended or plugged in for long period of time.