Amazon is no longer selling hoverboards manufactured by Swagway and other producers, due to the potential fire hazard represented by such toys.
The decision comes on the heels of several incidents involving hoverboards, which had previously been considered the most popular sales item of the holiday season.
So far, as revealed by Mike Wolfson, a representative of the Consumer Product Safety Commission, the federal agency has identified 11 fires triggered by using such toy vehicles, across 10 states.
One such frightening event occurred on November 28, in Boca Raton, Florida, when an electric scooter malfunctioned as it was being used by 11-year old Sophie Levine.
The device had overheated and was making cracking sounds, causing the little girl to stop in her tracks and abandon her toy, which exploded soon afterwards.
Sophie’s family managed to put out the flames before the firefighters’ arrival, but the damage that the kitchen had suffered was extensive, resulting in substantial repair costs.
A similar fire caused by a hoverboard manufactured by Fit Turbo wrecked a house in Lafitte, Louisiana, and another similar occurrence was reported by a resident from Chappaqua, New York on December 6.
A smart balancing electric skateboard developed by Swagway burst into flames while it was being charged, combusting completely and wrecking the room’s floor. Luckily, no one was hurt by the blaze, but the family was forced to move to a hotel room, as their home is being patched up.
While experts who sell and repair the hugely popular vehicles claim that the hoverboards aren’t normally perilous, unless they are charged for longer than the recommended 3 hours, some retailers have been quick to remove the items from their online stores.
One such example is Overstock.com, its senior vice president Mich Edwards having declared on Wednesday, December 9 that he would put the clients’ safety first, and stop selling electric scooters, despite overwhelming demand.
It was also announced that customer representatives would call everyone who had bought such items from the website, so as to offer them reimbursement.
Now it appears that Amazon is adopting similar measures, as officials at the Consumer Product Safety Commission are conducting an extensive inquest into the recently reported incidents.
Apparently, the hoverboards that have malfunctioned so far had come from several producers, so now authorities are trying to establish how widespread the commercialization of such gadgets is at the moment, and how it can be curbed before more serious incidents take place.
As explained by Jay Whitacre, professor at Carnegie Mellon University, one possible explanation for the latest fires is linked to the lithium-ion batteries which allow the transportation devices to be set in motion.
Some rechargeable units of this kind are of poor quality, short circuits resulting in overheating, followed by fire or explosion, similar cases having been reported even in 2005 when lithium-ion batteries were used to power computers and mobile phones.
Such risks can’t even be fully anticipated beforehand, given the fact that the self-balancing scooters aren’t actually categorized as toys by the Toy Industry Association, so there isn’t a definite set of standards that they must abide by, before being placed on sale.
Basically, it can’t be fully ascertained that one has bought a reliable, completely safe hoverboard, no matter how much money was shelled out during the purchase.
Those who already own such gadgets and feel reluctant to part with them should at least take certain precautions, such as avoiding to overcharge them during the night, or for extensive lengths of time.
Moreover, they should always protect their body with a helmet and pads for the elbows and knees, and promptly call attention to any instances when the device has failed or malfunctioned, by accessing saferproducts.gov.
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