Are hoverboards safe to ride in 2020? Do hoverboards really catch on fire? Does hopping on a hoverboard come with any risks? How do I handle different hoverboard parts? How can I ride a hoverboard safely?
These are the questions I’m going to tackle below to help you decide if a hoverboard is safe enough for you or your kids. And before we go any further, the smartest thing you can do to be safe on a hoverboard is to get your kids a helmet like this and knee & wrist pads like these!
You can also find my recommendations for the safest hoverboards available in the following articles:
- Best cheap but safe hoverboards
- Best hoverboards for beginners
- Best hoverboards under $100
- Best hoverboards under $200
- Best safe hoverboards for kids
- Best hoverboards for teens
So now, let’s get to the real question that we all want answered:
Do hoverboards really catch fire?
Hoverboards first hit the market in 2014. Within no time, everyone from celebrities to famous athletes wanted to get their hands on one. It quickly became the hottest item to get during the holidays, no matter how old you were.
Due to the sudden demand for hoverboards, most companies outsourced manufacturing overseas where the boards were could be made with fewer regulations. Factories used cheap quality materials on their boards and tires, and most significantly, they were using non-branded lithium batteries. Not only was that bad for charging but also it was a fire hazard.
So yes, some hoverboards did catch on fire or even explode while charging. Yes, houses were burned down. Millions of dollars of damage was caused by fires from hoverboards. And yes, sadly, a few lives were even lost in these fires. 2016 could be called a bad year for hoverboards, to put it lightly.
To no major surprise, videos of hoverboards catching on fire while charging and even while being ridden went viral. Retailers such as Amazon, Target, Toys ‘R’ Us and eBay promptly banned hoverboards from their sites and terminate all sales immediately. Hundreds of thousands of hoverboards were recalled by the Consumer Product Safety Commission.
The good news
Fortunately for us all, hoverboards have stopped exploding. Underwriter Laboratories, an independent safety consulting and certification company, and also a well-known company who dealt with cell phones catching on fire, put the word out that they would be thoroughly testing any hoverboards that manufacturers wanted to submit so that hoverboards could be safe to ride once again.
It was soon discovered that the exploding hoverboards were caused by a short circuit of the rechargeable lithium-ion batteries. If manufactures wanted to put their hoverboards back on the market and into consumer’s lives, they had to be tested and certified using UL 2272 standards, which involve a series of over 150 tests.
Jeff Smidt, Vice President and General Manager of Underwriter Laboratories, said, “With UL 2272, our expert science, research and engineering teams now have developed the appropriate requirements and methodology to confidently evaluate and test the entire self-balancing scooter for electrical and fire-hazard safety as a system.”
The Consumer Product Safety Commission heard about all this and demanded hover board manufacturers to take non-UL compliant boards off the market and if possible, replace them with UL compliant boards. It got to the point where if these rules were not followed, it would result in civil or criminal penalties.
Now that manufacturers were producing hover boards that were UL 2272 Certified, Amazon allowed for hoverboards to be sold on their website once again, but only those with the certification. In 2017 and 2018, hoverboards made a successful return to the market. It may take some time to totally shed their reputation as fiery devices of death, but with each passing year, these fun self transportation devices move further away from their tarnished past.
Key points to take away:
- Make sure you buy a hoverboard that is UL 2272 certified! Most are, but there are still some out there that aren’t.
- You can check what hoverboards have been recalled on the Consumer Product Safety Commission website. The last time a hoverboard was recalled was in 2017.
- All the hoverboards I recommend are UL 2272 compliant and are considered extremely safe.
Are Hoverboard Chargers Safe?
Besides hoverboards themselves, the chargers they come with can present safety concerns. If you buy a very cheap hoverboard, or order one from a random person on eBay, then chances are it will come with a cheap, junky charger. These chargers can get really hot while charging, to the point of even being dangerous.
Are there any other risks?
Like any form of transportation, hoverboards are not 100% risk free. There are various ways you could become injured from riding a hoverboard, such as:
- Losing your balance and falling down
- Crashing into something or getting hit by a moving vehicle
- Riding on uneven surfaces, causing the board to jolt and throw you off
- Parts becoming very hot and burning your skin when touched
So Are Hoverboards Safe for Kids?
If you’re thinking about buying a hoverboard for your kid, this is probably the big question on your mind. And after reading the above risks, you may feel even more uncertain. But guess what? Now that we know all the hoverboards sold in the US these days are certified safe products, you only have to worry about the occasional wipe out by your kid.
And you know what? Bumps and bruises are a part of growing up! So the best thing you can do is to let your child have fun, but minimize the risk by following the below suggestions.
Know your hoverboard’s parts
Avoiding painful accidents often boils down to understanding your hoverboard and how it works. Here’s a guide to some of the main components and how to handle them safely. Also learn more about how to safely fix your hoverboard if it’s broken.
Wheels are essential to your hoverboard experience. Here are some hoverboard safety tips related to wheels:
- If your wheels are small it’s easier to do tricks, but if you’re too heavy for them they won’t perform well, or you’ll find it more difficult to balance. Make sure you heed the weight limits that come with every hoverboard. Smaller wheels are obviously better for kids.
- The wheels must be suitable for the terrain you intend to ride on. Nothing will send you plummeting to the ground faster than transitioning onto grass without off-road wheels.
- Most standard wheels don’t have the right grip or thickness to manage uneven terrain. This can cause them to jolt to a halt, you to lose your balance, or the board to get damaged. Always stick to smooth pavement for a safe ride.
Yes, even the body can be hazardous. If the board isn’t designed well, the part covering the wheel may make contact with it. If you’re riding at top speed and that happens, you’ll fall for sure.
This is why quality design is vital, as well as parts that won’t easily break or bend. Stick to trusted brands and the latest models. With most new boards coming with features such as fire-retardant materials waterproof parts, a a new level of safety is being reached.
To help you stay standing, a high quality grip surface on the hoverboard’s body must be in place. Look for rubberized squares that have non-slip properties. If you come across an older or used hoverboard that doesn’t have these, stay away.
Manufacturers know what you need, but don’t assume they always provide you with the best. Beware of cheap imitations and if you can, feel the surface so you can determine for yourself if it will give you some grip.
Battery and Charging
Hoverboards run on battery power and need to be charged frequently. Charging can come with its own problems, so always beware of the following, and don’t hesitate to buy a new battery charger, as they don’t cost much.
- During movement or crashes, parts can get damaged. This can affect how the unit charges. Never assume the parts are in excellent condition. Always check if they become extremely hot and stop charging if they do.
- If this is a popular toy or a necessary transport accessory in your home, you may charge it daily. Most batteries only stay in good condition for a certain number of charges. After that, they may not charge fully, or they can malfunction. Once again, monitor the device while charging, so you know it doesn’t overheat.
- A malfunctioning battery may stop abruptly while you’re still riding, and the resulting jolt can cause an accident. This makes it necessary to keep your charging unit in top condition. Some brands sell replacement parts, so make use of this service if you wish
How to safely ride a hoverboard
With the investment that comes with purchasing a hoverboard, there is also an investment in learning the safety precautions associated with owning one. While the Facebook fail videos tend to produce a chuckle, at the end of the day safety should be the number one goal in hoverboard use.
Children and adults alike should take the time to learn tips and tricks on how to safely ride a hoverboard safely. For more general riding tips, see my article on how to ride a hoverboard.
Just like when you ride a bike, riding a hoverboard requires the right gear. Helmets, kneepads, wrist guards, elbow pads, and other safety gear will help you avoid a trip to the emergency room as you learn to master the hoverboard.
Wrist guards are especially useful because most riders reflexively use their hands to stop their fall, increasing likelihood of injury to their wrists. At the minimum, a helmet should be worn, no matter the riders age.
Mounting and dismounting
Have you seen those funny fail videos of first-time hoverboard users? One of the reasons they tend to faceplant on the first try is because they don’t know how to properly get on the board itself.
To get on your hoverboard, step onto it with your right foot first (if you’re right handed) and place the foot as close to the edge/wheel as you can. Keeping your body centered, put your left foot on the opposite end, and voila! It’s better to step quicker than to hesitate.
To dismount, do the opposite. If you step forward, the hoverboard will go forward as well. This is a surefire way to fall flat on your face. Instead, go backwards, just like you would going down a ladder. This helps prevent accidents when getting off the board.
Take care of your hoverboard
Maintaining proper upkeep and care of a hoverboard not only increases its longevity, but also makes it safer. One of the common mistakes is to leave your board charging overnight. Hoverboards are not cell phones. Unlike cell phones, overcharging can have disastrous results.
The board only takes 2 to 4 hours to fully charge. Respect this. If you aren’t certain how long you need to charge it, refer to the manufacturer’s instruction and follow them.
Don’t forget that as cool and futuristic as hoverboards are, they are not invincible. Taking your hoverboard through bumpy and rough terrain on a regular basis will greatly decrease the life of the board. Remember, these things aren’t meant for offroading.
Practice, practice, practice
Before hitting the open road, take the time to learn how your board works. Again, you had to learn how to ride a bike at some point, right? Same concept with a hoverboard. Practice mounting and dismounting, learn the correct posture and stance, and gain confidence in your hoverboard abilities.
You’ll fall a few times, but through practice and patience, you’ll master how to balance, accelerate, decelerate, and stop safely. Start slow until you are comfortable. Keep in mind hoverboards don’t brake the same way bikes do, so abrupt stops may send you flying. Avoid this through simply letting yourself become comfortable first before you speed up.
Don’t try to do crazy tricks
While there are a handful of tricks that you can do on your hoverboard, you’ll find that there are a far cry from the kind of tricks that skaters do on skateboards. So don’t even think about trying to jump curbs or slide down rails on your hoverboard. You’ll just end up getting hurt and/or breaking your hoverboard.
What are the safest hoverboards?
If you’re looking for a safe hoverboard (and why wouldn’t you), your best bet is to stick to reputed brands like Swagtron, Hover-1, Gyroor, Tomoloo, SISIGAD, and Epikgo. In this article, I review the best hoverboards from these top-rated brands.
Ride safe, my friends!
Now you know hoverboards can be very safe. Strict regulations are in place, so all you have to do is choose the right board to ensure a safe ride. Will you allow your child—or yourself—to enjoy the adrenaline rush of riding one now?