Hoverboards are expected to be big Christmas sellers this year but there is widespread concern over the potential danger they pose to the public.
More than 15,000 unsafe hoverboards – otherwise known as self-balancing scooters – have been seized at ports and airports around the UK. Most were discovered at the Suffolk port of Felixstowe, but others have arrived at East Midlands airport and in Glasgow.
Trading Standards officers said the boards were in danger of overheating, exploding or catching fire and many had plugs without fuses, faulty cables or chargers that could burst into flames. Batteries are likely to fail resulting in high energy ignition and rapidly developing fire.
Around 88% of the devices seized around the UK were found to be defective and London’s fire brigade has reported at least three house fires caused by hoverboards over 10 days in October. One of these resulted in burns to the occupier and another forced two people to escape via a first floor window. Fires have also been reported in the United States, Australia and Hong Kong.
The faulty devices, thought to have come from eastern Asia and China, do not conform to European safety standards. Most are unbranded and have been ordered by small traders or via websites to sell to bargain-hunting shoppers.
Monmouthshire’s Trading Standards service urges consumers to be on their guard when purchasing these products. A link from the Electrical Safety First website gives sound advice and information on checking the safety of chargers: http://www.electricalsafetyfirst.org.uk/guides-and-advice/electrical-items/chargers/
Monmouthshire Trading Standards offers the following tips to consumers who have bought or are considering buying a hoverboard:
- Never leave the charging device unattended, especially overnight. A faulty cut-off switch means it could overheat.
- Check the plug. Many faulty devices have a clover-shaped plug.
- If buying online, be careful to check the website is genuine and has a contactable phone number and address.
- Don’t be dazzled by prices which seem too low.
Leader of Monmouthshire County Council, Peter Fox commented: “For safety’s sake we strongly advise consumers to research these products before parting with their cash. If they have any doubts at all they should avoid a purchase.”
Anyone who finds suspect products for sale is urged to contact the Citizens Advice helpline on 03454 04 05 06.