Controversy surrounding one of the hottest 2015 holiday gifts and tech toys around is heating up, literally. Dubbed a "self-balancing scooter" and more commonly called a "hoverboard" segway, although it doesn't levitate or drift--this two wheeled motorized personal transportation device is the new way to travel. Home goods retailer Bed Bath & Beyond is also on board, with hoverboards up for sale on its store shelves. Rising popularity among young adults, teens and kids alike makes the hoverboard segway a hot holiday gift item season, but not without safety concerns.
As WGNO reports, the National Association of State Fire Marshals (NASFM) issued an official warning about hoverboard safety this week. Fire Marshals encourage potential buyers to do their homework first to find out if the hoverboard segway is "in compliance with applicable and accepted inspection standards before making a purchase," Marshals said in a statement Friday.
Some of Hollywood's biggest celebrities have been spotted rolling along on this futuristic set of wheels including Justin Bieber, Chris Brown, Kylie Jenner, Wiz Khalifa and JR Smith. Multi-branded mass production of these 360 degree turning self-balancing scooters means that you can now find them for sale within the price range of $300 to $500. That's dirt-cheap compared to the $1,800 price tag attached to the IO HAWK hoverboard, but are these devices being quality tested for safety compliance?
The national warning from the NASFM follows recent headlines about a hoverboard segway explosion that caused a fire that would burn down a Lafitte, Louisiana home. On the heels of that devastating news, a YouTube video surfaced showing another one of these battery operated contraptions on fire and exploding, shooting debris in all direction. Its owner, Timothy Cade of Gulf Shores, Alabama recorded the incident in awe. "$500 down the drain, just like that," Cade said in the video that was recorded just one day after receivng the hoverboard in the mail. "Don't get this for your kids," he added. According to Cade, all he did was go outside and turn it on when it suddenly exploded. The internal batteries of these hoverboard segways appear to be the culprit, Fire Marshals cite this a major concern. "Unfortunately, the fire that occurred in Lafitte involving a hoverboard is not a unique occurrence," Louisiana State Fire Marshal and president of the NASFM Board of Directors, Butch Browning said.
Abroad in the UK, officials are taking a more direct approach to the self-balancing electic scooters' known issues of overheating, exploding or catching fire. Trading Standards officers seized 15,000 of unsafe self-balancing boards in the region's ports and airports. The BBC said that the faulty devices, manufactured in East Asia and China, do not meet European safety standards.The London Fire Brigade said that the hoverboards caused three house fires over a period of ten days back in October. Britain officials also encourage shoppers to ensure the device meets safety standards before shelling out hard earned cash.
If you're looking to grab one of these hot holiday tech toys as a gift this year, don't let the "hoverboards for sale cheap" lures fool you into an instant buy. Be a wise consumer and check with the manufacturer to ensure that that the scooter is quality control tested. When gifting a hoverboard scooter to someone for this holiday season, be sure to also gift the recipient safety gear including a skateboard helmet, knee guards and wrist guards to prevent injury. The Consumer Product Safety Commission advises that all hoverboard scooter riders must read and follow the product instructions closely. Users must also be careful to not overcharge the unit or charge it overnight.