Hoverboards May Soon Be Recalled
The US government warned manufacturers it may start yanking unsafe hoverboards off of shelves
Start meeting voluntary safety standards set by UL or your hoverboards may be recalled or seized upon import. That’s the stark message sent by the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) to hoverboard manufacturers today.
CPSC, a federal government agency, spent months investigating hoverboards, aka self-balancing scooters, after myriad reports of the products bursting into flames during charging or while in use. Some incidents have caused serious injury, including concussions and broken bones.
Related: Hoverboard Concerns Heat Up
In December 15, the chairman of CPSC wrote, “Consumers want and deserve answers about the safety of hoverboards. I have directed agency staff to work non-stop to find the root cause of the fire hazard, how much of a risk it might present, and to provide consumers with answers as soon as possible.”
CPSC engineers tested new and damaged boards in search of the problem, scrutinizing the configuration of the battery packs and compatibility with the chargers in particular. (Photo: CPSC)
Earlier this month, UL announced it would start evaluating, testing and certifying hoverboards. Previously the company had been certifying battery cells, modules, and packs as well as related battery chargers and power supplies as individual components, but did not test or certify any hoverboards.
“Even if both a battery and charger are separately certified to be safe, they aren't necessarily compatible and could create a fire if the battery can't handle the output of the charger,” said John Drengenberg, consumer safety director for UL, earlier this month.
On February 2, Jeff Smidt, vice president and general manager for UL’s Energy and Power Technologies division, announced, “Our expert science, research, and engineering teams have now developed the appropriate requirements and methodology to confidently evaluate and test the entire self-balancing scooter for electrical and fire-hazard safety as a system.”
In its letter to manufacturers, CPSC wrote, “Self-balancing scooters that do not meet these [UL’s] voluntary safety standards pose an unreasonable risk of fire to consumers. Consumers risk serious injury or death if their self- balancing scooters ignite and burn.”
The letter goes on to indicate that products that don’t meet the safety standards will be considered defective and may be recalled. “Should the staff encounter such products at import,” the letter states, “we may seek detention and/or seizure. In addition, if we encounter such products domestically, we may seek a recall of these products.”
If you own a hoverboard, CSPC offers these safety suggestions:
- Charge and store the hoverboard an open, dry area away from items that can catch fire.
- Do not charge directly after riding. Let the device cool for an hour before charging.
- If you’re giving a hoverboard as a gift, leave it in its partially charged state (often, the product comes partially charged). Don’t take it out of the package to bring it to a full charge and then wrap it back up.
- Wear safety gear when using a hoverboard, including a helmet, knee and elbow pads and wrist guards.
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