Hoverboards: A Hot New Buy or Just a Hot Mess?

By Linsey Randall

“Hoverboards” were, by far, the hottest gift this past holiday season. Millions were shipped out from China, eBay reportedly sold over 5,000 units on Black Friday and an eBay hoverboard was pur- chased every 12 seconds on Cyber Monday. However, these boards aren’t just figuratively hot, the self- balancing scooters have literally become so hot that they’re catching fire and even burning down homes. Exactly how safe are these hoverboards?

In November 2015, a boy’s hoverboard began shooting flames. Within minutes, his family’s house was on fire. Since then, the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Com- mission has reported 37 fires in 19 states caused by hoverboards. Because of the hoverboards’ tendency to catch fire, airlines such as Delta, American, and United have banned the devices. USPS also refuses to ship them in any way except by ground. Amazon and Target have both temporarily sus- pended sales.

What exactly is causing these hoverboards to blow up? The answer is the Lithium ion battery.

This kind of battery cannot accept overcharge, so when the cells in the battery are overcharged, it can potentially start a fire. Owners seem to think that extending the charging time will help the hover- board run longer, but it does not. According to “Tech Time,” disasters can be prevented by purchasing a high quality device with a trusted battery. Usually, the hoverboards that are priced under $300 are made of cheaper materials and are more likely to cause damage. That doesn’t mean buy the $1,000 hoverboard, but when looking for one to purchase, invest in one that is composed of high quality materials with a name brand battery.

Over 30 colleges across America have also banned the use of hoverboards, but not only be- cause of their ability to spark fires. The boards are also responsible for countless injuries and emergency room visits. Everyday, video clips of children, parents, grandparents, and celebrities are released from showing the horrific accidents that happen on the hoverboards. Although many of us laugh at these videos, the aftermath of the falls not seen on camera are pretty painful. Hoverboarders are left with extreme bruises, broken limbs, and even concussions.

Hoverboards are fun, as long as you take care of them and use them in an appropriate manner. Cities all across the globe are banning these self balancing scooters, so hurry to the store! If you own or are planning to purchase a hoverboard, here are some tips for keeping you and your home safe:

•When purchasing a hoverboard, look for the ones priced around $400 that contain batteries from recognizable brands such as Samsung and LG.

•Never charge your hoverboard overnight. You shouldn’t charge a hoverboard for over an hour at a time.

•Before attempting to ride one, know how to safely get on the hoverboard. Gently put one foot on, stabilize yourself, and then slowly step up with the other. Never vigorously jump on, this will not end well!

•Step back to get off. When getting off of a moving device, your instincts may tell you to jump forward, but that may end in a bad fall. Step back with your dominant foot first, and then with the other foot.

•If your hoverboard does catch fire, don’t try to be a hero. Evacuate the area and call the fire department.

Photo courtesy of Talia Land: “Former Mamaroneck High School student, Ben Shapiro, taking a ride on his hoverboard!”

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