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Are Hoverboads Safe? Lawyers Warn of Fire and Injury Risks
Hoverboards were all the rage in 2015 when the first devices hit the market. Countless incidents later, they got banned on flights because of the risk posed by their batteries. Some models even were recalled, but not all dangerous units have been returned to their manufacturer to be recycled.

Are Hoverboads Safe? Lawyers Warn of Fire and Injury Risks

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A recent announcement from law firm Penney and Associates reminded us of the fact that these devices can still be dangerous, even though they might not be as fashionable as they used to a few years back. The law firm underlined the dangers of these devices, and we felt we had to share them with you.

The evident danger posed by hoverboards, and other free-roaming vehicles, is the risk of falling, which can lead to various injuries. As the law firm noted from statistics, almost 30,000 children visited the hospital in 2015 and 2016 with injuries related to hoverboards, which accounted for forty percent of all emergency room visits.

Children are not the only ones who can be injured on hoverboards and other free-roaming vehicles, but statistics have shown that the average age of an injured rider was 11 back in 2015 and 2016.

Hoverboard accidents usually occur because of a loss of balance, but can also happen if the rider ends up on the street and gets hit by a vehicle, or if they attempt to ride in a place with a slippery surface. 

The injuries that result from these falls are enhanced by the fact riders do not wear appropriate safety gear. The most basic safety gear that would suit all riders is a helmet, which protects their skull in the event of an impact with a rigid surface.

The best way to get acquainted with a hoverboard or a free-roaming device is in a controlled environment. Do not try to learn how to ride these devices on public roads, in parks, or in your house.

Try to find an open area with a flat and even surface that has few or no obstacles. Wear safety gear to prevent injury in the event of falling off the hoverboard. It's that simple.

In case you want to gift a hoverboard, scooter, or another free-roaming vehicle to your kids, be sure to accompany them when they try to ride the device and help them get comfortable with it. It should also be a family bonding moment, so stay calm and help your kids enjoy the moment.

Another issue with hoverboards or other free-roaming vehicles is distracted riding. Once riders get a hang of how to keep their balance on these alternative mobility devices, their confidence level goes up, and some believe that it is safe to check their phones while riding. That is not wise, as taking your eyes off the road will expose you to danger, as well as reducing your body's ability to keep its balance because your eyes cannot let you pay attention to your phone and to the road at the same time.

The other danger with hoverboards, electric scooters, and other electric-powered free-roaming vehicles lies in their batteries. These devices use lithium-ion batteries that are found in numerous other gadgets owned by an average person, but not all batteries are created the same. In other words, hoverboard battery quality is not top-notch, and this is important to take into account before charging one.

According to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission, hoverboard battery fires have caused over $2 million in property damage in 2016. That was the year when hoverboards were at their peak popularity, but these devices are still owned by many people across the Globe.

At the time, two separate hoverboard recalls were issued to mitigate the risk, and over 500,000 units were recalled. Owners of hoverboards manufactured prior to 2017 should be the most careful with their devices, as they were created before those recalls existed, and some units may have been subjected to those recalls.

As the law firm suggests, if you own a hoverboard bought in 2017 or earlier, you should check its brand's recall status. If you discover that it is the subject of a recall, do not charge or use it. You are also advised to contact the manufacturer to return the product and receive a refund.

How can you tell if a hoverboard has been designed after the recalls meant to curb battery fires? Well, you should check the packaging. It needs to have a "UL 2272" certification mark on its package. The law firm noted to make sure that the entire hoverboard is covered by the "UL 2272" certification, not just its battery, as some vendors might claim. The said certification only covers the entire product, not just its battery.

Furthermore, the device should be purchased from a reputable vendor, not just somewhere you find it at the lowest possible price. In the latter case, you still risk purchasing a potentially hazardous hoverboard. Feel free to check out the CPSC's Hoverboard Information Center for more safety tips and recall information about these devices.

Editor's note: Photo gallery shows various hoverboards and free-roaming vehicles for illustration purposes only. This story was not supported or sponsored by a third party.

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