It wasn’t Cabbage Patch Dolls, Nano Pets, or a Red Ryder BB Gun that was atop the list for many children this Christmas; it was an electric scooter or hoverboards.
These hoverboards are the closest we will ever be to soaring like Marty McFly in ‘Back-to-the-Future’ and come with warnings, trips to the emergency room, and barrage of new laws.
If you search social media sites, you can find a number of “#hoverboardfails videos”, and numerous of hoverboard riders have found themselves in emergency rooms with bumps, bruises, stitches and broken bones. The “easy” method of transportation is comically not-so-easy to ride.
Just before Christmas, the California Department of Forestry & Fire Protection released a State Fire Marshal Information Bulletin providing safety tips for the use, care, and maintenance of hoverboards.
The bulletin stated: “Hoverboards are undoubtedly on many wish lists, and currently these popular devices do not have a safety listing that regulates their manufacturing for fire safety.” Due to the current forest fire threat, CalFire provided these safety precautions for an enjoyable time and reducing the risk of fire and injury.
When shopping for a hoverboard:
• Take the time to research the product you buy.
• When buying online, verify that the hoverboard meets applicable standards.
• Devices that meet safety requirements will indicate their listing approvals on the packaging, on the hoverboard and its charging equipment.
• Buy a hoverboard with a warranty from a reputable source.
• Check with your retailer regarding the safety of the hoverboard you are purchasing.
When charging your hoverboard:
• An adult should be responsible for charging the hoverboard.
• Read and follow all manufacturer directions.
• Do not overcharge the hoverboard; follow manufacturer’s recommended charging times.
• After the hoverboard has been used, give it time to cool before re-charging.
• Do not leave the hoverboard unattended while charging.
• Never leave the hoverboard plugged in overnight.
• Plug the charging device directly into an outlet. Keep to one plug per outlet.
• Only use the charging cord that came with the hoverboard.
When operating your hoverboard:
• Operate the hoverboard in accordance with its intended use.
• If you notice the hoverboard is hot, stop using it and contact the manufacturer or retailer. This could suggest a faulty battery that needs replacing.
• Store the hoverboard at room temperature. Extreme hot or cold temperature can hurt the battery.
• Wear appropriate safety equipment; similar to when riding a bicycle.
• Do not text or operate a cell phone while using a hoverboard.
When traveling with your hoverboard:
• 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.
Signs of a Problem:
Some hoverboard fires have involved the Lithium-Ion battery and/or the charger. The following are signs of a malfunction:
• Leaking fluids
• Excessive heat
CalFire recommends if you notice any of these problematic signs to stop using the hoverboard right away. If safe to do so, move the hoverboard to the outside and away from anything that can burn and Call 9-1-1.
New Laws affecting Hoverboard Use
We all remember those motorized skateboards that were popular a few years ago; causing noise violations and a safety hazard, California Lawmakers made them illegal. Motorized skateboards – the old noisy, polluting kind that don’t have any brakes – have long been illegal in California. But what about the slick new hoverboards that plenty of people got as Christmas gifts?
Now that you own a Hoverboard, you can ride it at your indulgence? Most likely not…
A new law (Assembly Bill 604, effective January 1, 2016) says they are legal, but with a bunch of restrictions.
All riders of a hoverboard must be aged 16 or older, and must wear a helmet if riding on public property or public right-of-way. Additionally, hoverboards are not permitted to go faster than 15 MPH, and can only be used on streets where speed limits are 35 MPH or less unless you are in a bike lane.
The law also states that local jurisdictions and colleges can set rules and regulations for use of a hoverboard.
It takes considerable effort to operate a hoverboard sober; however, the law adds that it is a crime to operate a hoverboard while under the influence of alcohol or drugs.
A conviction for violating this law carries a fine of up to $250.
The State of California is asking the California Highway Patrol to monitor hoverboard use and in five years the topic of hoverboards and any traffic safety issues will be reviewed for further legislation. ■