The Future is Not Quite Here: Hoverboards are a Fire Hazard

There is nothing quite as cool as a futuristic toy or gadget that finally makes its debut in present-day stores. Such has been the case of the Hoverboard, prominently featured in Back to the Future II as the transportation of choice in 2016. While Marty McFly might have enjoyed the (fictional) ride, today’s teens may have to wait a bit more as hoverboard manufacturers work out the kinks.

The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) has issued a statement recently noting that many hoverboards, also known as self-balancing scooters, do not meet the organization’s safety standards. The statement cited that the CPSC has received dozens of reports from 24 different states describing self-balancing scooters that overheated and caused fires. The fires resulted in millions of dollars in damage to homes and property, including cars.

The CPSC recently sent a direct warning to manufacturers and commercial distributors stating clearly that self-balancing scooters must comply with UL safety standards, primarily with regard to the ion lithium battery, which is the core of the electrical system. Currently, most hoverboards are manufactured in China and imported through retail distributors — such as Allibaba — directly to the consumer.  The buying trend flew under the CPSC’s radar long enough to get an unsafe product into the hands of thousands of Americans before the safety issues were addressed.

At this point, the CPSC is playing catch-up with the product, while swimming against the tide of pop culture purchase habits. The hoverboard has already been featured prominently in music videos, film and TV, all showing celebrities riding the scooters without incident. This fact, combined with the online purchase habits of the target market is a disaster waiting to happen.

The bottom line: If you have purchased a self-balancing scooter:

  • Check with the CPSC to confirm that the specific model meets safety standards;
  • Return it to the supplier;
  • Stop riding it for a while — Amazon and other distributors are considering a recall;

In any event, if you have purchased a self-balancing scooter, follow the news about the product. If you or a child has been injured by a hoverboard, contact a product liability lawyer to learn about your right to compensation. Lytal, Reiter, Smith, Ivey & Fronrath stay current on unsafe products, and we will take your case seriously. Call 561-665-1990 or contact us online to make an appointment at our West Palm Beach office today.