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Unless you’ve been hiding from the news in the last decade, you know that for a while hoverboards were considered a risky investment. While fun, inconsistent manufacturing standards meant that faulty lithium-ion battery packs could overheat and burst — leading to fires and explosions. But exactly how dangerous are hoverboards, and how likely are you to get injured while riding one?
Until 2018, hoverboards had little cohesive oversight. Many overseas manufacturers produced them with inconsistent production and materials standards. But before then in the United States, the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) logged countless incidents of both hoverboard-related property damage and injuries.
The best overboards belong to a product category known as micro-mobility products that also includes e-bikes and e-scooters. In total, this product category accounts for roughly 133,000 injuries that were reported between 2017 and 2019. But when you dig further, hoverboards account for significantly fewer injuries than e-bikes and e-scooters.
According to CPSC, there were more than 250 reported injury incidents related specifically to hoverboards between 2016 and 2017. The watchdog organization estimates that faulty hoverboards have accounted for more than $4 million in property damage which includes house fires. As if that’s not enough of a sobering statistic, hoverboards can be attributed to 13 burn injuries and three smoke inhalation injuries.
The total aggregate of micro-mobility deaths between 2017 and 2019 is 41. But according to a CPSC study, only four were attributed to hoverboards. And of that figure, three of the four deaths were in people under the age of 18.
Likewise, in that same study, evidence shows that three of the four fatalities were fire-related. This includes two house fires where, sadly, children were trapped in a home where a hoverboard that was left charging caught fire.
Just like with any other mobility device, wearing the proper safety gear is one of the best things you can do. Most hoverboard-related injuries are a result of people losing their balance and falling off the device.
And if you’re concerned about fires, only buy UL-certified hoverboards. Likewise, don’t overcharge your hoverboard, and avoid letting it sit idle for too long at a full charge.
Along with ensuring that you only buy a hoverboard that’s UL-certified, you should also make sure you take proper safety precautions when riding them. This includes investing in protective headgear and regularly inspecting the scooter before every ride.
While exploding scooters might get the most attention, the most common injuries are bruises, fractures, and strains or sprains associated with falling off of them.
Sadly, yes people have died. By 2019 at least four Americans died because of hoverboard-related incidents.