Statement from U.S. CPSC Chairman Elliot F. Kaye Investigation

Statement from U.S. CPSC Chairman Elliot F. Kaye Investigation
Statement from U.S. CPSC Chairman Elliot F. Kaye
on the Safety of Hoverboards and the Status of the
Investigation
We continue to work diligently to provide the answers on hoverboards that consumers rightfully
want and deserve. As noted in this related announcement, we are actively investigating a
number of companies that make or sell hoverboards.
In the interim, I am pleased that at least one leading retailer is erring on the side of caution and
taking action now. For consumers who purchased a hoverboard from Amazon, they can return
the product right now for a full refund. I want to commend Amazon for voluntarily stepping up,
providing a free remedy and putting customer safety first. I encourage consumers to take
advantage of Amazon’s offer and to contact the company through the following site:
https://www.amazon.com/contact-us/.
As encouraged as I am by Amazon’s actions, I expect other retailers and manufacturers of
hoverboards to take action and offer a full refund now to their customers as well. I also expect
responsible large-volume online sellers in particular to stop selling these products until we have
more certainty regarding their safety.
Additionally, I want to highlight that Underwriters Laboratories (UL) has announced that while
components of hoverboards, such as battery packs and power supplies, might be UL certified,
there currently is no UL certification for hoverboards themselves. For more information on their
announcement, please go to: https://ul.com/newsroom/featured/uls-involvement-in-hoverboardcertification/.
At this time, the presence of a UL mark on hoverboards or their packaging should not be an
indication to consumers of the product’s safety. In fact, any such mark is at best misleading and
may even be a sign of a counterfeit product.
At CPSC, our investigators and engineers continue to work diligently to find the root cause of
the hoverboard fires that have occurred throughout the country. CPSC staff is focusing on the
components of the lithium-ion battery packs as well as their interaction with the circuit boards
inside the units. CPSC staff has consulted with test laboratories, lithium-ion battery
representatives and other outside experts to verify safe design practices for use of lithium-ion
batteries in hoverboards. There are certain basic safety technologies we expect these units to
have that should prevent overheating and potential combustion. These are the same readilyavailable technologies that exist in properly manufactured lithium-ion batteries used in the
notebook computers and cell phones we all use every day.
Beyond the fire hazards, based on the increasing number of serious injuries and emergency room
visits associated with these products, we are also expanding our investigation of the falls
associated with hoverboards. At first glance, it is easy to believe the risk of falling off a
hoverboard is an obvious one and to dismiss those injuries as user inexperience or error.
However, I am concerned, for example, that the current designs of these products might not take
fully into consideration the different weights of different users, potentially leading to the units
speeding up or lurching in a manner that a user would not have reason to anticipate, especially a
first-time user. We are looking deeper into the design of these products to see if they present a
hidden hazard that is leading to fall injuries that should not occur, even on a product that presents
some risk of falling.
Fall injuries can be serious and life-altering. Many people, including children, have ended up
with fractures, contusions or head/brain injuries. Hospitals across the country are reporting
spikes in children and adults being admitted after suffering serious falls. If you or your child
continue to use this product, I recommend that you do so with a helmet and pads. I have two
very active young boys, so I very much appreciate the struggle sometimes to get kids to use
safety gear. But, wearing proper safety gear in this instance should be non-negotiable.
As we move forward with our investigation of the fall and fire hazards relating to hoverboards,
all options remain on the table for CPSC. The federal government continues to work in close
coordination on this serious issue. Officials from CPSC, U.S. Customs and Border Protection,
the U.S. Department of Transportation and the Federal Aviation Administration are regularly
sharing information and insights with a common goal of taking whatever steps are necessary to
prevent injuries and property damage from fires and falls.
Colleges, universities and other institutions and organizations have been active in prohibiting the
use of hoverboards on campus, and I want to commend the leaders of those institutions for
putting safety first while our investigation pushes forward. I am aware they are waiting for the
results of our investigation before taking further steps. We’re moving as quickly as possible to
provide those answers.
As I have mentioned before, there are no safety standards for these products. That is
unacceptable. I am pleased to report that both ASTM International and UL are preparing to
work on the development of standards for hoverboards that would seek to address both types of
hazards. I will be directing CPSC staff to participate in those efforts.
In the meantime, I urge consumers to continue to use caution with hoverboards:
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Have a working fire extinguisher nearby while charging or using these boards in and
around your home.
Charge in an open area away from combustible materials.
Gear up before riding, which means putting on a skateboard helmet, elbow and knee pads
and wrist guards.
And, do not use a hoverboard on or near a road.
We encourage consumers to report fires or falls to us at www.SaferProducts.gov.
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