Fears over hoverboard heighten after Texas mall explosion

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One of the most popular gifts this Christmas holiday was the hoverboard, which was available online and at many kiosks in busy malls across the country. However, there have been significant safety concerns with the toy that include a significant increase in fires and even explosions. On Monday, one customer was trying to return the item because it would not hold a charge. When the kiosk worker tried to prove the unhappy customer wrong by plugging it up, the hoverboard exploded. The resulting fire and smoke caused an evacuation and closed the Deerbrook Mall in Humble,Texas, for 45 minutes. After the scene was contained, Deerbrook Mall officials ordered the salesperson to remove the devices from the property and closed the kiosk.

Three weeks ago Amazon warned purchasers of the tech gadget to throw their hoverboards away. According to Amazon, the toys have been linked to fires and explosions and have damaged homes and property. The culprit seems to be faulty cables, chargers or plugs used in the device. Many hoverboard brands have been pulled from Amazon in England and here in the United States, which resulted in 97 percent of the toys sold being removed online.  Amazon issued the following statement in an email to customers in the England: “We regret the inconvenience this may cause you but trust you will understand that your safety and satisfaction is our highest priority. Those with boards featuring “non-compliant U.K. plugs” should proceed immediately to a certified recycling center, and will be refunded for their purchase within three days.”

Here in the United States, the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission has also been receiving a growing number of safety complaints about the device. However, there has been no mandatory recall for the device. Airlines, including American, Delta and United, have banned the device on flights over fears that it could explode in midair, causing a serious accident. Because of the number of manufacturers of the device in different countries, especially China, Amazon is now requiring that safety documentation and proof that the hoverboards have passed certain standards before it can be listed on its website.

If you do not want to throw away your hoverboard, here are a few tips to follow:

  • Never leave the device charging unattended, especially overnight. A faulty cut-off switch means it could overheat.
  • Check the plug. Many faulty devices have a “clover-shaped” plug.
  • If buying online, be careful to check the website is genuine and has a contact phone number and address.
  • Be wary of low prices for a hoverboard.
  • Make sure you can contact the manufacturer listed on the device.
  • Hoverboards made by Argos, Tesco and John Lewis are affected.
  • Do not buy your hoverboard at a mall kiosk if you do not know how to contact the seller after the holiday season.
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