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Deadly Fire Prompts Officials To Issue New Hoverboard Warning

Federal authorities are warning consumers to be careful while charging hoverboards following the death of a Pennsylvania toddler.
Federal authorities are warning consumers to be careful while charging hoverboards following the death of a Pennsylvania toddler. Photo Credit: Clarkstown Police Department

Federal officials are again warning consumers to use caution when buying or using self-propelled “hoverboards” after one of the devices is blamed for causing a deadly Pennsylvania fire that claimed the life of a toddler.

More than a year after federal authorities issued a recall for the popular skate-like board amid fire-safety worries, Pennsylvania authorities say a charging hoverboard sparked a fire on Friday, March 10, that engulfed the toddler's Harrisburg home in flames.

If the hoverboard is confirmed as the cause, it would be the first-ever fatality due to the board, said Scott Wolfson, communications director for the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission.

According to the Wolfson, more than 500,000 hoverboards made by 11 companies were recalled in 2016, warning that the products did not meet fire safety standards.

The CPSC has investigated more than 60 hoverboard fires since the fall of 2015.

Wolfson added that the Underwriter's Laboratory (UL) in Chicago has issued  UL2272 which outlines guidelines for the board's batteries.

"We have put the manufacturers in the United States and in China on notice that if their boards don't meet UL2272 standards they should not be sold or imported," Wolfson said.

A full list of recalled devices is available on the CPSC website . The CPSC advises consumers who own a recalled hoverboard to stop using it and to ask the maker or retailer for a refund.

Research has revealed that the fires are most likely caused by lithium-ion battery packs in the self-balancing scooters/hoverboards that overheat, posing a risk of the products smoking, catching fire and/or exploding.

A hoverboard fire in Chappaqua last December has also been blamed on the battery pack, officials said.

Wolfson said the CPSC tells owners to only charge the boards in a space where they are visible at all times, to never charge overnight, and to keep a fire extinguisher and smoke alarm nearby.

“Not everyone responded to the recall,” Wolfson said. “Even though it was an early 2016 announcement, we would still recommend that consumers check their hoverboards. If they haven’t taken advantage of it yet, it’s not too late.”

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