Hoverboards will be one of the hottest gifts this holiday season, and we mean literally as reports of boards catching fire and even exploding are flooding the internet. Now, retailers and government agencies are beginning to do something about it.
Amazon is warning customers to throw away some boards amid safety concerns and is requiring hoverboard makers to provide documentation that their wares are in-line with "applicable safety standards." Amazon and other online retailers pulled some hoverboards, though Amazon reinstated some manufacturers' listings after they proved their boards met safety standards.
Other retailers are removing the self-balancing scooters from online and store shelves, and now government agencies are throwing down the hammer, too.
The US Postal Service said this week it won't fly hoverboards in its airplanes, instead shipping them by ground.
"Out of an abundance of caution and in line with major retailers and the airline industry, the Postal Service is limiting the domestic shipping of mailable motorized balance boards, or hoverboards, that contain lithium batteries," the USPS said. The agency is also halting international airmail shipments.
USPS' concerns have to do with lithium-ion batteries, found in many hoverboards and prone to overheating and fire-catching. Some manufacturers are also reportedly using cut-rate materials to keep down cost; in other words, making cheap knock-offs.
The postal service has long-standing rules and regulations regarding lithium batteries in place, but its new hoverboard policy may put a damper on plenty of Christmas mornings.
You can see one board burst into flames in the video below:
The problem of pyrotechnic hoverboards isn't limited to the US, of course.
The UK's National Trading Standards consumer protection agency seized 32,000 out of 38,800 hoverboards that have come into UK ports since October, according to Buzzfeed News. The agency said it made the seizures because of concerns related to "the plugs, cabling, chargers, batteries or the cut-off switches within the boards." If the cut-off switch isn't working, the battery will continue charging, leading to overheating and, well, fire and explosions.
Stateside, the US Consumer Product Safety Commission is currently investigating 12 reports of hoverboard-related fires in 10 states.
Given the high demand for hoverboards, it's no surprise that cheap, unsafe models are looking to cash in on the holiday craze. We recommend doing your research and avoiding impulse buying a board just because it's cheap and in stock - just to be on the safe side.
- Hoverboards are banned from CES 2016
Top image credit: Ben Larcey (Flickr Creative Commons)