Amid growing concerns over the fire hazards of hoverboards containing lithium batteries, the U.S. Department of Transportation on Thursday issued a safety alert, saying transporting the popular devices as cargo without complying with hazardous materials regulations is illegal.
The Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) is investigating at least 11 reports of fires related to hoverboards in the past year. CPSC field investigators said they had “purchased boards in the marketplace and we have taken possession of boards that caught fire.”
All of the USA’s big airlines now ban hoverboards because of the hazards the batteries present.
Leading hoverboard maker Swagway last week said Amazon had requested that companies manufacturing the popular devices prove they are safe to use. It said Amazon had started to pull some hoverboards from its site.
Also last week, U.S. Customs and Border Protection said it had seized 164 hoverboards with fake batteries or other counterfeit marks.
And CPSC issued guidance on hoverboards, saying that consumers who buy them for the holidays shouldn’t fully charge them before wrapping them.
“You don’t want a fully charged hoverboard in a box sitting under your tree until Christmas,” said CPSC deputy director Patty Davis.
The board should also only be charged when someone is present and paying attention.
“Do not charge a hoverboard overnight. Make sure you’re awake and watching,” Davis said.
PHMSA said investigators last month intercepted a shipment of 32 cargo containers filled with hoverboards that weren’t properly prepped for shipping in accordance with federal hazmat transportation regulations.
Lithium batteries are “generally safe when manufactured and handled properly,” the Transportation Department’s Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA) said in a statement. “When manufacturers or shippers ignore certain precautions, however, it can result in an unstable and dangerous product that can spontaneously generate intense heat or fire, and can even explode.”
Contributing: Brett Molina, Elizabeth Weise, USA TODAY
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