Hoverboards are the hot item of 2015, but there is some cause for concern over the self-balancing devices. In addition to the traditional safety hazards of operating a motorized vehicle, new reports indicate hoverboards could be a fire hazard if improperly handled. After the devices were banned by New York City, Overstock.com became the first retailer to halt the sale of hoverboards.
Overstock.com issued a statement regarding the discontinuation of hoverboard sales on Wednesday. "Customer safety is always our top priority. With the continued emergence of news reports highlighting safety concerns with 'hoverboard' self-balancing electric scooters, we have made the decision to remove all similar products from our website as a precautionary measure," Mitch Edwards, General Counsel and Senior Vice President of Overstock.com said in a statement. Any customer who purchased a hoverboard was contacted by an Overstock.com representative. The customer could return the scooter for a full refund within two weeks of notice or product delivery, the company said.
Concerns about the hoverboard were first raised after several reports of the item catching on fire. Jessica Horne's home was destroyed after a hoverboard reportedly exploded while it was being charged, New Orleans' local ABC affiliate WGNO-TV reported. Another hoverboard reportedly exploded while it was being charged earlier this week, Baton Rouge's local ABC affiliate WBRZ-TV reported. "I was like oh my god, I can't believe that this is happening and I'm glad that we were at home when this happened," Tamara Hardnett said to the TV station. Another hoverboard caught fire at Washington State Mall.
Timothy Cade's video of his hoverboard reportedly exploding while he was riding it went viral.
But there are ways to help the reduce the risk of hoverboards, according to the National Association of State Fire Marshals (NASFM). The organization issued a warning for consumers to research hoverboard manufacturers before purchasing the motorized scooter. Purchasing the cheapest possible hoverboard from an unknown manufacturer could be problematic. It's recommended for potential consumers to read reviews and media coverage regarding the burgeoning industry.
"Buyers should look for indications of acceptance by recognized testing organizations, the information of which may appear on the item’s packaging. Consumers should also consider purchasing the items from reputable online and local stores that offer warranties," the NASFM said in a statement. The organization also recommends not overcharging hoverboards or leaving the scooter unattended.