CPSC Sends Safety Warning Letter to Hoverboard Manufacturers, Importers and Retailers

The Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) has told hoverboard manufacturers, importers and retailers that they must meet safety standards or face recall or seizure of the devices at ports.

“Consumers risk serious injury or death if their self-balancing scooters ignite and burn,” the agency said in an official letter containing a new set of safety standards for the scooters, NBC News reports.

Hoverboards—self-balancing scooters—have been prone to defects. Some have caught fire while in use, others have caught fire when recharging and have caused fires that have damaged, even destroyed, houses. Because of the fire danger, some airlines banned the devices on planes, whether as carry on or in checked baggage.

The CPSC’s letter says that the agency “considers self-balancing scooters that do not meet the safety standards referenced above to be defective, and that they may present a substantial product hazard … or could be determined to be an imminent hazard . . . Consumers risk serious injury or death if their self-balancing scooters ignite and burn . . . Should the staff encounter such products at import, we may seek detention and/or seizure. In addition, if we encounter such products domestically, we may seek a recall of these products,” NBC News reports.

Federal safety regulators at the CPSC stepped up their investigation of the self-balancing electronic scooters in December 2015 after a spate of reports of fires and explosions, as well as injuries from falls. Between December 1, 2015 and February 17, 2016 the CPSC received reports from consumers in 24 states involving 52 hoverboard fires that resulted in a total of $2 million in property damage including the destruction of two homes and a car.

The CPSC has not not banned hoverboards but the notice lays out new safety standards that could bring serious penalties—fines, civil and criminal legal action, and seizure of products—against retailers, manufacturers and importers. The warning could lead to a widespread recall inside the hoverboard industry. The CPSC notes that the action applies to hoverboards of all shapes, sizes, variations, and prices. In the fall of 2015, many UK retailers recalled hoverboards from different manufacturers because of safety issues, including the plugs, cabling, chargers, batteries or the cut-off switches within the boards. The cut-off switches are designed to stop the battery from continuing to charge once fully charged. A faulty cut-off switch can allow the device to overheat, exploding or catching fire, the UK National Trading Standards agency said.

Last week, Elliot Kaye, chairman of the Consumer Product Safety Commission told NBC News that no hoverboard can be considered safe. Kaye said no hoverboard now on the market meets the agency’s standards and the CPSC wants “everybody to stop sale, test their units, see if they do or not, and if they do continue selling it, if they don’t, don’t sell them anymore and recall any of them that are on the market.”

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