The Dangers of Hoverboards

Are Hoverboards on your child's list this holiday season? This latest trendy item popularized by social media may be all the rage, but concerns are on the rise over the device's safety, with a particular focus on its electrical systems. And, after reports of accidents, including one in which the brand new gadget caught fire (while charging), exploded, and burned down a house in Louisiana, it's now one of the season's most dangerous.

The product, available from several manufacturers, is powered by a lithium battery and that's where the danger lies. A recent article in Wired explains that lithium-ion batteries are to blame: "When the batteries are charged, a lot of heat is generated inside the cells and this leads to electrolyte boiling, the rupture of the cell casing, and then a significant fire." All hoverboards are not created equal and many lower-end products are being built with cheap parts which makes them unsafe. If you are going to purchase one of these gadgets, stick to a higher-end product from a reputable manufacturer.

Airlines also recognize the dangers and are now banning these on flights. According to a recent statement released by Air Canada, travellers will no longer be able to bring the small lithium-battery powered vehicles as checked or carry-on baggage due to "potential safety risks associated with the batteries that power them." Delta, American and United have also followed suit.

Injuries have become increasingly common in recent months. The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) reports that since August 2015, it has received 29 reports of "emergency-room" injuries related to hoverboards, including fractures, strains, sprains, contusions, lacerations, and head injuries. Hoverboard makers have advised to wear helmets as well as wrist and knee pads, but even those precautions only go so far in preventing serious accidents.

So with reports of this gadget catching on fire, a long list of serious injuries, and a price tag that isn’t friendly for all budgets ($500 to over $1000), the major question this holiday season is — to buy or not to buy?

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