The federal government has launched an investigation into one of the year’s hottest holiday toys after receiving multiple reports of it catching fire and causing injury.
The Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) is warning consumers to beware of hoverboards. The agency said it’s received 10 reports of hoverboards catching fire from consumers in nine states, and 29 reports of people having been treated at an emergency room after falling off the self-balancing, two-wheel, motorized board.
Of the 29 emergency room visits, CPSC spokeswoman Patty Davis said 13 were for fractures, six were for strains or sprains, four were for contusions or abrasions, two for lacerations, one for a head injury and three for an injury to an ankle, wrist or shoulder.
The three largest U.S. airlines — Delta, United and American — have banned hoverboards from all flights over concerns that the lithium ion batteries used to power them could potentially spark a fire on board.
Davis said CPSC is investigating whether the batteries are to blame for the fires and in the meantime hopes the industry steps forward and establishes safety standards for the product.
“The need is evident with all the fires we’ve seen,” she said.
When asked if CPSC would step in and create safety regulations if the industry fails to act, Davis said she could not speculate.
“The way our process works is we have to allow the voluntary standards process to work first before we get involved,” she said.
CPSC is advising consumers shopping for a hoverboard to make sure its been certified by a national test laboratory. For those who already own one, the agency said not to charge it overnight or unsupervised during the day. As for the risk of falling, Davis said, riders should wear elbow and kneepads, wrist guards and a helmet to protect themselves.
Consumers are urged to report incidents at www.saferproducts.gov.
The CPSC said it's investigation is a high priority for the agency.
"We know how popular the product is," Davis said. "We know consumers are giving the product as a gift during the holidays and we are working all across the country to move our investigation forward as quickly as possible."