With holiday shopping now in full swing, trade officials in the United Kingdom have issued a warning to consumers regarding the safety hazards of using certain types of inexpensive hoverboards that have flooded the market in recent weeks.
Reports from the National Trading Standards and other trading standards groups have revealed that out of the 17,000 hoverboards inspected at several ports in October, around 15,000 (88 percent) of the devices were found to be dangerous to users.
Officers discovered that faulty hoverboard batteries resulted in product overheating and fire-related cases.
Leon Livermore, head of the Charted Trading Standards Institute (CTSI), pointed out that negligent manufacturers and criminal groups will often take advantage of the high demand for such products and try to flood markets with low-priced yet dangerous devices.
He said that consumers should not allow themselves to be influenced by popular trends in their purchases and that they should be vigilant in bringing a potentially dangerous product home with them.
Trade experts advise shoppers to be careful in buying products, especially during the holiday season.
Around 99 percent of online marketplace listings regarding IO Hawk hoverboards have been found to be fake, according to anti-counterfeit products agency NetNames.
The increasing popularity of online marketplaces have also led to the flourishing of counterfeit products.
The World Customs Organization said that fake or counterfeit products make up close to 10 percent of international trade and around $500 billion in sales every year.
The difference between real products and counterfeit ones has become even more difficult to determine because of the growing number of dubious websites.
In November, two accidents related to hoverboards were reported in Alabama and Louisiana in the United States.
Gulf Shores-native Timothy Cade was riding a hoverboard he bought on Amazon when the device suddenly exploded and caught fire. He was not injured in the event.
“I came outside, turned it on, came down the sidewalk not even probably a hundred feet, and it exploded,” Cadesaid.
“Batteries started shooting out of it; you would not expect a fire like that to come out of a little thing like that. I was not expecting something like that.”
Despite the accident, Cade said that he still plans to buy another hoverboard to replace the one he lost. He advised other hoverboard users to be careful in handling the batteries as he thinks they were the reason why his device exploded.
Meanwhile, Jessica Horne and her family lost their Lafitte home after a hoverboard she bought her 12-year-old son caught fire while the batteries were being charged.
Horne said that she purchased the hoverboard through Amazon for $300 and gave it to her son as a gift on Thanksgiving.
After a day of using the hoverboard, her son tried to recharge the lithium batteries using the accompanying charger. The device, however, burst into flames, which quickly spread to other parts of their home.
“It was like fireworks,” Horne said, “the middle part of the board – just ‘poof.'”