By Tracey Sutherland, cPNP
Trauma Nurse Practitioner
Boston Children’s Hospital
Self-balancing scooters, commonly referred to as hoverboards, became wildly popular in 2015, when several manufacturers developed similar versions and marketed them in the United States and around the world. Right from the start of their popularity, safety issues were identified, leading to significant consumer concern and soon after, thousands of recalls. There have been several deaths directly linked to the use of hoverboards, whether related to injury while using the board or fire while recharging. Emergency Departments, pediatric as well as adult facilities, around the world began to see an acute elevation in hoverboard injury. Falls from the boards lead to concussions and more serious head injuries, fractures, internal abdominal injuries, hand injuries, and even death.
The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Committee (CPSC) launched a safety investigation and linked the hoverboard’s lithium-ion battery pack to the source of the fires. They developed a voluntary safety standard and urged suppliers to only import and sell those boards that were certified by the CPSC. This helped make the newer versions of the hoverboards much safer, however, safety issues remain and not all the boards have been certified to CPSC standard. Fatalities related to uncertified hoverboard fires have occurred as recently as 2 months ago in the U.S.
Due to the increase in hoverboard related traumatic injuries, the Department of Health in several countries has recommended a minimum age of use as well as restricted where the hoverboards can be used. Some cities in the U.S. have banned their use on public streets, restricted use to bike lanes or have implemented speed restrictions.
What does this all mean to the consumer? Can a hoverboard be used safely? If you’d still like to enjoy the use of a hoverboard, here are some tips to follow to keep you and your family safe:
If you choose to dispose of your hoverboard, take it to the local recycling center for safe handling of the lithium-ion battery.