You may have seen children and teenagers speeding down sidewalks on forward-facing scooters. Commonly known as hoverboards, these self-balancing devices were launched in 2015, providing an easier alternative to traditional skateboards. Unfortunately, many consumers have learned firsthand that these futuristic devices aren’t as developed at they should be—especially in light of reports that hoverboards are catching fire.
Hoverboards Cause Injuries as Overheated Batteries Catch Fire
The United States Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) began receiving reports of injuries due to hoverboards just weeks after they entered the market; however, most were due to children falling off of the device. In November, the CPSC began receiving reports of a deadlier nature, as consumers called to report injuries and house fired sparked by hoverboard batteries overheating, exploding, and burning.
The reported fires have had a number of safety implications, including:
- Safety investigations. The CPSC is conducting an investigation across all brands of hoverboards to determine their fire safety risks. Spokesmen from the agency have confirmed active investigations into several fire incidents across the nation, including California, Ohio, Texas, and Louisiana.
- Airline bans. Hoverboards were banned on U.S. commercial airline flights in early December, before the holiday travel season began. American Airlines, Delta, United, Southwest Airlines, and Jet Blue have all prohibited carrying hoverboards both in checked or carry-on luggage due to fire safety risks.
- Retailer refusals. Not only is it becoming more difficult to use these front-facing scooters, it’s becoming increasingly difficult to buy them. Some brands have gone missing from online retailers’ listings, and Amazon.com sent a public notice to all hoverboard manufacturers requiring proper documentation of safety compliance. On Dec. 9th, 2015, internet retailer Overstock.com revealed that it will no longer carry hoverboards of any kind due to fire risks and injury concerns.
How to Protect Your Family From Hoverboard Injuries
Needless to say, a product that can potentially catch fire is a risk to safety in many ways. Not only do overheated batteries pose a risk of burn injuries, they can also cause house fires that can ruin several rooms or even burn a dwelling to the ground. These tips can help protect your family from overheated lithium ion batteries:
- Store hoverboards properly. A flaming hoverboard that destroyed a Louisiana home allegedly began when a hoverboard was left on a sofa, fueling the blaze. Never store these devices on fabric or furniture, and place the device well away from flammable objects (such as tables or chairs) when they are charging.
- Don't charge overnight. Many of the incidents occurred as the devices were charging, placing the residents of the home at extreme danger. Consumers often charge electronic devices at night while they sleep, causing them to be unprepared for sudden sparks. Never leave a charging hoverboard unattended.
- Heed electrical warnings. Consumers should only use the batteries and charging cables that came with the device. Modifying batteries and using inexpensive replacement chargers only increases the risks of a fire. Finally, if the battery shows signs of damage (such as warping, burn marks, smoke, or melted areas) stop using the battery immediately.
- Don’t use water on a battery fire. Lithium batteries do NOT react well to water. These fires should only be extinguished using a dry chemical extinguisher (class C) or a dry powder fire extinguisher (class D). Since even inhaling the fumes from these fires can cause injury, always call the fire department rather than battle the blaze yourself.
Our Dangerous Product Lawyers Can Get You What You Are Owed
If someone in your family has been injured due to a hoverboard fire, the attorneys at Wayne Wright LLP can help you recover. We know how to collect vital evidence and get compensation from the company that caused you harm. Call us today to learn more about the cases we represent, and tell us your story at no cost to you.