25 fire fighters battled to save a family home overnight after a self-balancing board ignited while charging in a bedroom. No one was hurt, but the house was severely damaged. Frustratingly, the Christmas present was said to be purchased specifically because it met Australian battery standards.
Here are some tips to stay safe.
Image credit: Christopher Furlong / Getty Images
Ash Ibraheim told ABC Online that he had given three of his four daughters a hoverboard for Christmas. “We heard there were a lot of imported versions that weren’t complying, so we wanted to make sure we got the right thing.”
Metropolitan Fire Brigade (MFB) investigators are still determining if a unit fault was to blame, and if the use of extension power strips were a contributing factor. These can alter current flow and cause devices to work harder for charge.
The charred remains of the offending hoverboard. Family lucky to evacuate after the Christmas gift caught fire. pic.twitter.com/6XWEAjCX6V
— MFB (@MFB_NEWS) January 4, 2016
Choice says that a problem with several different hoverboards’ charging systems has led to fires in the US, UK and Hong Kong.
“The issue arises when these hoverboards are overcharged — left plugged in until their batteries reach 100 per cent capacity. While we’re used to our laptops, smartphones and tablets having (relatively) smart charging technology inside their chargers that limits the voltage and current output to a trickle once a device is fully charged, these hoverboards are clearly missing this circuitry.”
Hoverboard Safety Tips
Fires that have occurred overseas from the faulty design of some hoverboard chargers and user injuries through falls. Here are some tips to stay safe.
1. Before Christmas, the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) warned prospective hoverboard buyers to “ensure that the packaging is marked with the Australian regulatory compliance symbol or RCM — a tick surrounded by a triangle.
The RCM signifies that a supplier has taken the necessary steps to ensure the product complies with electrical safety requirements.”
“Overcharging noncompliant devices may cause overheating of the battery and result in a fire.”
2. The MFB is cautioning against letting the devices charge while you’re out of the house. In fact, it’d be wise to be in the same room while they charge.
4. The ACCC has also urged users to follow the manufacturer’s instructions and warning labels exactly when using and charging their hoverboard. “Always use the approved battery charger that came with the product. If there are signs of damage near the battery do not charge the unit until the device is inspected by a professional.”
5. Here’s what Choice recommends when looking for a self-balancing scooter:
– An easy to read manual
– A short battery charge time
– A long distance claim (meaning a longer charge will be maintained from the battery)
– An inflatable tyre but make sure they are topped up with air to the required level
– Weight of the scooter if you need to carry it
– Safety warning features when approaching maximum speed
6. Always wear suitable safety gear like a helmet and always wear shoes.
7. Don’t ride on the road – and know your state’s rules. For instance, NSW Government (and most places around Australia) have banned use on public roads and footpaths.
8. And of course: adults should supervise the charging of all electrical devices for children.
The United States Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) is already in the midst of a massive investigation into the safety of hoverboards. This seems like a very good idea! Those two-wheeled death machines are dangerous and there are currently no safety standards in place. Help is on the way.