A Milwaukee couple bought their daughter a hoverboard for Christmas even as they were skeptical about doing so after all those reports of fires and explosions. As it turned out, their concerns were justified. The 7-year-old girl’s Christmas gift, the hoverboard, sparked a fire that destroyed their apartment on Christmas Day. The girl apparently got the gift on Christmas Eve.
Her mom said she allowed all her three children to take turns riding the self-balancing scooter before they headed out for dinner. The children put it back in the box and left. An hour later, the family received an urgent call to return home. The bedroom where the hoverboard was put away had burst into flames and the entire apartment had been gutted. The Red Cross is helping the family with shelter as they find a new place to live.
Our thoughts and prayers are with this family in Milwaukee that lost their home on Christmas Day. We are relieved, however, that the fire occurred when none of the children or other family members were at home.
Hoverboard Fires and Recalls
In November, the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) announced the recall of seven hoverboard brands after receiving reports of the devices’ battery packs overheating and catching fire or exploding. The scooters were being pulled from shelves due to risks posed by their lithium-ion battery packs, which the commission said can easily overheat and cause the toys to go up in flames.
Owners of the recalled hoverboards were advised to stop using them immediately and contact the company for a free replacement. This alert followed a similar recall of 500,000 hoverboards in July 2016. CPSC is aware of more than 250 hoverboard incidents related to fires or overheating since 2015. In March 2017, a 2-year-old girl and a 10-year-old girl died in a house fire ignited by a hoverboard in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania. The federal agency estimates there have been 13 burn injuries, three smoke inhalation injuries and more than $4 million in property damage related to hoverboards.
What Precautions Can You Take?
The best action you can take as a consumer is to not buy a hoverboard. CPSC states that hoverboards should be compliant with the UL2272 safety standard. But, even with this compliance, there is no guarantee that a hoverboard will not overheat or catch on fire. Check for recalls by going to cpsc.gov. If you have a recalled hoverboard at home, stop using it right away and contact the manufacturer for the remedy.
Charge a hoverboard only when you are there to watch it. It is important to have working smoke alarms on every level of your home, outside sleeping areas and inside each bedroom. If you or a loved one has been injured in a hoverboard-related fire, contact an experienced product defect lawyer who can help you better understand your legal rights and options.