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January 20, 2019

How to reduce the fire risk of hoverboards and other rechargeable devices

Christmas’ hottest toy, the hoverboard, can pose a fire risk due to its lithium-ion batteries. (Image: Instagram)

Hoverboards, this year’s hottest Christmas gift, are proving to be a little too hot for folks to handle.

The self-balancing motorized scooters can pose a fire risk due to the lithium-ion batteries that power them. (Just an FYI: Lithium-ion batteries are also found in remote control cars, smartphones, computers and other devices.)

The National Fire Protection Association has issued a few fire safety tips to follow when using these trendy devices:

  • Read and follow all manufacturer directions.  If you do not understand the directions, ask for help.
  • An adult should be responsible for charging the hover board.
  • Do not leave a charging hoverboard unattended.
  • Never leave the hoverboard plugged in overnight.
  • Only use the charging cord that came with the hoverboard.
  • Stop using your hoverboard if it overheats.
  • Extreme hot or cold temperature can hurt the battery.
  • Be on the lookout for product updates from manufacturers and safety groups.
  • Many airlines have banned hoverboards. If you plan to fly with a hoverboard, be sure to check with your air carrier.
  • When riding in a car, keep the hoverboard where you can see it in case it shows signs of a problem.

The NFPA adds that users should watch for warning signs such as leaking fluids, excessive heat, odor, sparking and smoke coming from their boards.

Even Saturday Night Live took note of hoverboards’ safety issues:

Safety tips for other products that use lithium-ion batteries

Rechargeable lithium-ion batteries are widely used in electronics because of their long life span and ability to quickly provide high currents. According to a report from the Daily Mail,  most well-manufactured devices have special circuits that prevent these batteries from overheating or over charging, but “poorly manufactured, non-branded units, often from China, usually do not have these additional safety systems.”

As a whole, lithium-ion batteries should be treated with caution. Safety guidelines include:

  • Place the battery pack in a flame retardant case away from other combustibles when charging.
  • Do not substitute a charger not intended for device. 
  • Never charge batteries unattended
  • Follow all safety warnings on batteries.
  • Do not use a damaged battery as they may ignite or explode.





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