If your little one has their heart set on a hoverboard, you may be wondering how safe they really are. You’re not alone. Worrying about your children’s safety is normal, especially when purchasing a new gadget.
To ease your concerns, I’ve put together important information about hoverboard safety. From injury statistics to safety tips, I’ll cover all the crucial details you need to make an informed decision.
From one parent to another, count on me to provide all the necessary information so you can make the right choice for you and your child.
Are Hoverboards Safe?
Hoverboards are safer now than they were before 2017, when 500,000 hoverboards were recalled due to fire risks. However, hoverboards still carry many risks, especially injury. Between 2017 and 2021, there were 77,200 injuries related to micromobility vehicles. But when the user wears protective equipment, such as a helmet and knee pads, they reduce their injury risk.
What Is a Hoverboard?
A hoverboard is a two-wheeled electric scooter. Users ride this self-balancing hoverboard by carefully adjusting the tilting direction in order to move the scooter forward, backward, or to bring it to a stop.
Hoverboards run on battery power and are made up of two wheels, a logic board, a motor, and a battery. Despite their name, they don’t actually hover. Instead, they’re a bit like Segways but without the handles.
Are Hoverboards Safe?
Parents — let’s discuss your safety concerns surrounding these micromobility vehicles.
Awareness of the potential risks of using a hoverboard is essential. Since they are motorized vehicles, there is a risk of falling, which can lead to injury. Anyone can fall off a hoverboard, whether you’re a total newbie or an experienced rider.
The other primary concern is fire. When lithium-ion batteries overheat, they can catch fire. Most new hoverboards don’t pose a fire risk, but if your hoverboard was manufactured before 2017, it’s crucial you check its recall status.
There have been many reported injuries associated with hoverboards. I’ll share the leading statistics and information on hoverboard accidents in the US.
According to the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC), there were 77,200 injuries related to micromobility vehicles (e-scooters, e-bikes, or hoverboards) and 48 deaths between 2017 and 2021 (1). Sixty-eight percent of the deaths were caused by e-scooters rather than hoverboards, but self-balancing scooters still led to some deaths.
According to University Hospitals, over 26,000 children visited the ER with a hoverboard injury in 2015 and 2016 (2). The most common injuries were bruises, fractures, sprains, and strains.
Children aren’t the only people at risk. Hoverboard accidents are three times more likely to cause a facial fracture in adults than children (3).
Overall, injuries from hoverboard accidents are increasing. Doctors are especially worried that hoverboards are more dangerous than anyone has realized before.
Hoverboard Fire Hazard
Due to their electrical makeup, hoverboards pose a fire risk.
Between autumn 2015 and 2017, there were more than 250 cases of hoverboards catching fire or overheating (4). By 2017, CPSC had reports of over $4 million in property damages, 13 burn injuries, and three smoke inhalation injuries caused by hoverboards.
The main reason hoverboards cause fires is from:
- Batteries overheating.
- Poor wiring within the hoverboard.
- Chargers overcharging batteries and causing an explosion.
- Short-circuiting and wire tears within the hoverboard.
Due to these risks, 500,000 hoverboard units were recalled (5). But, despite manufacturing improvements, these gadgets still pose a risk.
In fact, in 2022, there were 11 deaths associated with fires caused by hoverboards (6). This devastating news may make many families swerve far away from hoverboards. It’s totally understandable for families to feel concerned about hoverboard fire risks. After all, safety is a top priority for us parents.
If you have a hoverboard made before 2017, check its recall status. Many hoverboards made before this time had an increased fire risk due to the battery construction.
What Age Is a Hoverboard Safe For?
The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) states that children under the age of five shouldn’t use a hoverboard or a skateboard (7). Children over six can ride a hoverboard, but they must have close parental supervision.
Having said that, many hoverboard manufacturers state that riders must be at least eight years old. Always check what your hoverboard manufacturer states, as this varies from brand to brand.
Hoverboard Safety Tips
Hoverboards are as unsafe as you make them. While they have risks, you can drastically decrease the chances of injury and fire if you are sensible. Here are the most effective hoverboard safety tips according to manufacturers and experts:
- Wear safety gear: Before riding, always wear a skateboard helmet, wrist guards, knee and elbow pads, and closed-toe shoes. If you fall, this gear can protect you from injury.
- Choose a high-quality hoverboard: Avoid off-brand hoverboards, as these are typically lower quality. Instead, choose a branded model, like one from Hover-1 or Swagtron.
- Avoid textured surfaces: Always ride your hoverboard on smooth surfaces, such as indoor flooring or smooth pavements. Avoid cracked, rocky, or bumpy roads. If you ride over this kind of ground on a hoverboard, you can easily fall.
- Keep an eye on children: Don’t leave your children unattended when they ride their hoverboard. Stay nearby and stay alert.
- UL-Certified: Opt for a hoverboard that is UL-certified. This means that it has passed all the UL 2272 safety checks and performance standards. This includes fire safety testing and product safety, and manufacturers must continually monitor their products to ensure they still pass these checks.
- Stay near the charging hoverboard: Stick around when your hoverboard is charging. I know it’s tempting to leave the house or go for a nap, but try to charge the hoverboard when you’re working from home or watching a movie nearby. If it started overheating or caught fire, you could act fast and avoid property damage or injury.
- Check where you ride: As fun as hoverboards can be, they are typically banned in public places in the US. Check your state’s local regulations to confirm where you can ride your hoverboard.
- Respect the learning curve: You might be keen to get zooming, but keep in mind that they take a little while to master. Don’t jump on your hoverboard, and try to speed down your street. Instead, take some time to practice before you use it as intended.
- Avoid busy or dark places: Don’t ride your hoverboard in busy places (it’s probably not legal anyway). Avoid riding it at night. Although many hoverboards come with wheel lights, they aren’t bright enough to illuminate the road ahead.
- Store correctly: Store your hoverboard in a well-ventilated spot. This can prevent the risk of explosion, especially while the hoverboard is charging.
Should You Buy a Hoverboard for Your Kid?
It’s hard to make the right call as a parent. If you say yes, you could do so just to please your child. If you say no, your little one could guilt-trip you for months.
Whether you buy a hoverboard is completely up to you. Before 2017, hoverboards were more risky and posed a significant fire hazard. However, most are UL-certified nowadays and use higher-quality batteries, ensuring their safety.
Secondly, you might be nervous about hoverboards due to their risk of injury. But if your child wears protective equipment, avoids busy places, and sticks to smooth surfaces, hoverboards carry similar risks to bike riding.
At the end of the day, you know your child best. Take time to weigh up your safety concerns and make a decision that feels right for you and your family.