If you know what a hoverboard is, chances are you know that they can be dangerous. Whether it comes to pulling a Mike Tyson (taking a hard fall) on the device or the fact that they sometimes catch fire at random, the hoverboard hasn’t particularly come off as the holiday season’s safest gift.
But today the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) has released a statement explaining the various aspects of ongoing investigations into the two-wheeled balance boards. In conjunction, Amazon has agreed to give a full refund to anyone who purchased a hoverboard on the Amazon website, both in the United States and Canada.
Hoverboards launched onto the scene last year and quickly became one of the biggest consumer products of the holiday season. That said, they have this nasty habit of exploding and/or catching fire. There have been more than 40 reports of this type of incident in the last year, according to the CPSC.
These fires are said to be caused by sub-par lithium ion batteries and cheap manufacturing, but it’s not just the potential for fire that is under the CPSC’s microscope. The commission is also questioning whether hoverboards are safe for riding in general.
However, I am concerned, for example, that the current designs of these products might not take fully into consideration the different weights of different users, potentially leading to the units speeding up or lurching in a manner that a user would not have reason to anticipate, especially a first-time user. We are looking deeper into the design of these products to see if they present a hidden hazard that is leading to fall injuries that should not occur, even on a product that presents some risk of falling.
The CSPC is encouraging other retailers to offer their customers refunds and/or to stop selling the devices altogether.