What You Need to Know About Hoverboard Dangers - NBC Connecticut

What You Need to Know About Hoverboard Dangers

Hoverboards are shaping up to be the hottest holiday gift items this season. The NBC Connecticut Troubleshooters have tracked eight cases nationwide that have resulted in the devices catching fire. The Consumer Product Safety Commission is looking at the entire line. Local fire experts share safety tips. (Published Thursday, Dec. 10, 2015)

This holiday season is all about the hoverboard hype and those pricey new gadgets are earning the nickname "hot wheels," and not for a good reason.

Firefighters, federal officials and families are raising eyebrows after several incidents nationwide in which the battery-powered scooters are catching on fire.

Dramatic images that have been seen around the world show one of this year's hottest holiday items erupt in flames inside a mall in Washington state.

The latest incident, which happened on Tuesday night, is the eighth so far as the NBC Connecticut Troubleshooters track reports across the country.

Concern Over Hoverboards Sparking Fires

[HAR] Concern Over Hoverboards Sparking Fires
(Published Wednesday, Dec. 9, 2015)

One hoverboard erupted in flames after being plugged in for a charge at a home outside New York City, another roared into flames in Alabama and a battery is blamed for another fire in Louisiana.

"It's a Segway without the stick, also like a skateboard. I've basically been begging for it,” said Erin Hespelt, of West Suffield, who turned 9 years old a couple weeks ago.

She knows firsthand why kids everywhere are clamoring for the battery-powered scooters.

"I was like screaming in my head when I got it," Hespelt said.

Her mother, Tracy Hespelt, said the family did their research.

“You have to wear the proper equipment and use it under supervision,” Tracy Hespelt said.

The self-balancing electric scooters are stocked on store shelves, in mall kiosks and are being sold online as well.

Hoverboards typically cost hundreds of dollars and some are sparking fires and red flags for firefighters and families.

"I just kind of looked into them myself, because there is a request in my family, for my daughter, for a hoverboard for Christmas," Suffield Fire Chief Chuck Flynn said.

Flynn warns that it’s best to buy from one a reputable company and advises people to make sure the product meets fire and safety standards.

"When you're charging it, make sure you're watching it, only use the approved chord with the unit, if it is UL listed, that's a huge plus, because we know its met some standards, some electronic standards within the united states,” Flynn said. "If the manufacturer suggests 90 minutes of charge, don't overcharge it."

Tracy Hespelt said she doesn’t allow her daughter to charge the device without her supervision.

The Consumer Product Safety Commission said they are looking at the entire hoverboard line and investigating six fires, as well as 29 emergency room visits, most of which are related to falls.

"Allow the toy to cool down before re-charging it,” Flynn said.

But which brands might be cause for concern is not easily attainable.

Firefighters in Florida said the device there was burned so badly that they couldn't tell and the owner had already tossed the boxes.

When asked how you know if you're buying a hoverboard that is more susceptible to overheat, Flynn answered, "I don’t know we know the answer yet. The biggest thing is to follow the instructions," he said.
 

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