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Posted by Dr. Monica Wonnacott | February 25, 2016

Should You Buy A Hoverboard?

I was walking out of the library with my kids this weekend when in rides a kid on a hoverboard. Naturally, my two eldest piped in with “can we have one?” Without thinking, I responded, “No, they’re expensive.” Imagine my surprise when 2 days later I was reading this month’s AAP News and discovered an article titled: Injuries, Fires Prompt Warnings About Hoverboards.

According to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC), some models of hoverboards have spontaneously caught fire either while in use or while being charged. The CPSC has also had dozens of reports about injuries to hoverboard riders including concussions, broken bones, and internal organ injuries. Current product designs may not take into account different weights of riders, potentially causing units to speed up or lurch, leading to injuries. The official stance from the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) does not support allowing children under 16 to operate unlicensed motorized wheeled vehicles.

Safety issues have prompted legislation. In California, you must be 16 years-old to ride a hoverboard, and you must wear a helmet. Hoverboards are illegal in New York City. Nationwide, over 30 colleges and universities have banned the devices. Among those universities are Utah’s own Brigham Young University and Weber State University.

So what if you really want one or already have one? The CPSC advises:

  1. Charge and store the hoverboard in an open, dry area
  2. After riding the hoverboard, let it cool off for an hour before charging
  3. Do not charge overnight (you won’t see if it catches on fire)
  4. Wear safety gear (i.e., helmet, knee/elbow pads, wrist guards)
  5. Don’t ride by traffic
  6. Look for the mark indicating the product has been tested by a certified national testing laboratory

I was more than happy to show my kids at dinner tonight the further scientific reasoning as to why we aren’t getting a hoverboard, besides me just being frugal (although, between you and me, I still think a hoverboard, Back to the Future style, sounds pretty awesome).