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Hover Board Safety Fears

Monday 11th January 2016


Self-balancing scooters such as 'hoverboards' and monocycles were among the most popular presents this Christmas - but there are increasing concerns over safety.

A National Trading Standards spokesperson said: “The latest figures from National Trading Standards and trading standards services in Scotland show that over 38,800 ‘hoverboards’ have now been subject to intervention at border points due to safety concerns. Of these, over 32,000 have now been assessed as unsafe, and some results are still outstanding.

Trading Standards officers across the Country 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.

“National Trading Standards is urging consumers to be vigilant and avoid putting their households at risk with unsafe products.”
Top Tips for Consumers:
• Never leave the device charging unattended – especially overnight: a faulty cut-off switch (designed to stop the battery from continuing to charge once fully charged) or a plug without a fuse, as seen in many products detained so far, could lead to the device overheating, exploding or catching fire.
• Check the device: things to look out for include the shape of the plug – the first unsafe products identified often had a clover-shaped plug. Also check the device for markings or traceable information, such as the name and contact details of the manufacturer and / or importer.
• As a minimum, you should check that the three pin plug on the device states it is made to BS 1363 and that there is a fuse fitted inside the plug. If it doesn’t, don’t buy the product. With no fuse, there is potential for overheating, explosion and fire risk.
• Check the input voltage range of the charger includes 230/240V, 50Hz (the UKs nominal voltage) and that the hoverboard is fitted with a three-pin UK plug or charger.
• The device should display the genuine CE mark
• Look out for poor quality construction and finish, misspelt brands or product names, or instructions with poor English translations.
• The packaging should also be of good quality – avoid plain cardboard boxes not marked with a manufacturers name or trademark, and always check for contact details on the packaging or instructions, if these are not present your product is likely to be substandard.
• Faulty hoverboards will also often be missing warranty cards, instructions and other associated literature.
• If there are no instructions on how to charge the hover board safely, don’t buy it.
• Check that the instructions are for the product in the box.
• If buying online, look closely at the website before you hit the ‘buy’ button:
• Try searching for reviews of the product or the seller – do these seem genuine?
• Are there lots of spelling or grammar mistakes on the site? This can be a clue that a business is not professionally run.
• See if you can find out where the company’s head office is based – and whether that fits with how the website presents itself.
• Do they have a landline number you can call if there are any problems? Bear in mind that if the company is based abroad, it can be more difficult to get a complaint dealt with or return a faulty product.
• Read the small print – notice if anything seems odd, repetitive or in incorrect English.
• Is there an ‘s’ at the end of the ‘http’ part of the web address, or is there a padlock symbol in the task bar? This means the website is using an encrypted system that keeps your details more secure.
• Don’t be dazzled by a bargain: Are the prices incredibly low? If they look too good to be true, they probably are – particularly if some of your other checks have put doubts in your mind.
• Be aware that criminals exploit high demand: When items like self-balancing scooters start to sell out at well-known retailers, the void is quickly filled by crooks churning out poor quality imitations that can put people in danger. Don’t ‘panic buy’ from the first website you find – do your usual common-sense checks.
Other motorised self-balancing ‘rideables' include electric unicycles, Segways and powered mini-scooters/go-peds. All these rideables are illegal to ride on public roads and pavements – they can only be used on private land with the landowner's permission

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