THEY are predicted to one of this year's hot Christmas present items, but its a different kind of heat consumer watchdogs are worried about.
The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission has identified two safety concerns with hoverboards: fires that have occurred overseas from the faulty design of some hoverboard chargers and user injuries through falls.
Hoverboards, also known as self-balancing scooters, are electrical two-wheeled ride-on devices ranging in price from around $200 up to $2400. The speed and steering of the hoverboard are controlled by subtle shifts of the rider's weight. Hoverboards have an in-built battery that is charged by connection to a mains power source.
Electrical safety experts advise that fires, as reported, most likely relate to products that would not comply with Australian electrical requirements, or to the use of a charger meant for another device.
"If you are purchasing a hoverboard this Christmas, ensure that the packaging is marked with the Australian regulatory compliance symbol or RCM - a tick surrounded by a triangle. The RCM signifies that a supplier has taken the necessary steps to ensure the product complies with electrical safety requirements," ACCC Deputy Chair Delia Rickard said.
"Overcharging noncompliant devices may cause overheating of the battery and result in a fire."
"Always use the approved battery charger that came with the product. If there are signs of damage near the battery do not charge the unit until the device is inspected by a professional."
"Hoverboard owners are advised to follow the manufacturer's instructions exactly when using and charging their hoverboard. Adults should supervise the charging of all electrical devices for children," Ms Rickard said.
As controlling the hoverboards relies entirely on balance, falls from hoverboards are highly likely. Injuries could include fractures, sprains, cuts, bruising, spinal injuries, head injuries and concussion. Users should ensure they use appropriate safety equipment, including a helmet, knee pads, elbow pads and wrist guards. Always wear shoes when riding a hoverboard.
In Australia, the rules about where you can ride a hoverboard vary between the states and territories - riders are strongly advised to check with their local traffic authorities or police before riding a hoverboard in a public place.
The ACCC is currently assessing safety incidents associated with hoverboard products and is engaging with State and Territory consumer, electrical, and Road and Traffic authorities in that process.
While you're Christmas shopping, check:
Any warning labels or safety information. The item might not be safe for the person you're buying for.
Gifts are age-appropriate. Check the age-grading on the packaging - it's there for safety as well as child development reasons.
Toys for 3 year olds & under don't present a choking hazard. Make sure no small parts can come off, and ensure no part or toy can fit into a cylinder pencil sharpener or film canister (approximate diameter 32 mm).
You're not purchasing a banned product by mistake. Even 'innocent'-looking products could be subject to one of the 22 permanent bans that are in place right now: www.productsafety.gov.au/bans
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