U.K. Retailers Recall Hoverboards Citing Fire and Safety Hazards

Following government advice, Britain’s biggest retailers have recalled hoverboards.

The government said the self-balancing scooters are unsafe and recommends that consumers think carefully about buying a hoverboard as a Christmas gift. A large number of hoverboards have been shipped to the U.K., the Guardian reports.

According to National Trading Standards, a consumer protection agency, said that of over 38,000 hoverboards inspected between October 15, 2015 and mid-December, more than 32,000 were deemed unsafe. Many of the boards seized have non-compliant plugs without fuses, which increase the risk of the device overheating, exploding or catching fire, and cut-off switches that failed when tested. Worldwide, hoverboards have caught fire or exploded and a number of airlines will not allow the devices to be brought onto planes.

Hoverboards, self-balancing scooters also known as e-boards or swegways, are selling fast as Christmas gifts, but the consumer agency said there have been reports that poor quality versions are fire hazards, according to the Guardian. “Trading standards officers have detained the boards due to numerous concerns including safety issues with the plugs, cabling, chargers, batteries or the cut-off switches within the boards, which are designed to stop the battery from continuing to charge once fully charged. A faulty cut-off switch can lead to the device overheating, exploding or catching fire,” a National Trading Standards spokesperson said. Online retailer Amazon advised customers who have bought the scooters with unsafe plugs to get rid of them, according to the Guardian. Amazon has sent emails to customers who bought hoverboards with non-compliant plugs.

Amazon said those customers will receive a full refund and they should dispose of the defective boards at a recycling center. Another email was sent to everyone else who bought hoverboards outlining the board’s concerns about the scooters’ safety, in particular the rechargeable lithium batteries and plugs. The email included a link to safety tips.

Retailer John Lewis has recalled the Selfy Stick Air Runner as a precautionary measure. The company said it has sold fewer than 350 of these hoverboards and they have not been on sale since December 3rd. The company said it has no reports of issues with the boards, according to the Guardian. Argos has recalled the Nevaboard, its line of hoverboards, from sale while it carries out extra safety testing. Halfords issued a recall for the Air Runner Balance Board, after it was found that some of the hoverboards, marketed as a children’s “ride-on toy,” had been sold with a plug and charger that did not comply with British standards. A family in Kent, England suffered £25,000 ($37,000) of damage to their house after a hoverboard exploded in their kitchen.

There have also been hoverboard incidents in the U.S. A Louisiana woman blamed a hoverboard for a fire that destroyed her home. An exploding hoverboard created panic in a shopping mall in Auburn, Washington. It is illegal in the U.K. to use hoverboards on public roads or pavements, the Guardian reports.

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