In 1985, hoverboards became a part of the pop culture lexicon following the release of the classic movie, Back to the Future. Today, the futuristic fantasy has become present-day reality. However, unlike its exciting cinematic portrayal, the “it toy” of 2015 has been blamed for a devastating chain of events soon after it figuratively and literally got off the ground.
A March 10 house fire in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, is believed to be the result of a charging hoverboard that led to smoke inhalation, serious injuries and one fatality. That tragedy continued a string of hoverboard fires during charging and riding that number at least 60 worldwide this past year causing an estimated $2 million in property damage.
Was the coveted conveyance 30 years in the making rushed to market? Safety concerns over fire risks continue to plague the product. Many point to poorly constructed, lithium-ion batteries necessary to propel the board, yet prone to explode. These power sources gained fame for causing Samsung’s Note 7 to catch fire.
Some speculate that the rough and tumble nature of hoverboards may be the cause of batteries being punctured and prime to explode. Inefficient and unmonitored charging may be another cause.
Continuing and costly catastrophes as of last July have led to everything from bans on college campuses to personal injury and wrongful death lawsuits. In 2016, 500,000 hoverboards were recalled over fire and explosion concerns.
A federal probe continues under the specter of the U.S. government’s ban on hoverboard imports. The prohibition is not due to past incidents. Hoverboards on the market currently do not meet safety standards. Amazon and Toys R’ Us no longer carry them.
Ongoing concerns could make this futuristic toy a thing of the past.