Safety tips to avoid hoverboard disaster this Christmas

Many hoverboard fires have been reported.
Many hoverboard fires have been reported.

Trading Standards officials in Central Beds are warning people to take precautions if they’ve purchased hoverboards as gifts this festive season.

Across the country there have been reports of the latest must-have gadget bursting into flames or exploding and many have failed safety checks.

Trading Standards is warning people to purchase hoverboards from reputable retailers.

Trading Standards is warning people to purchase hoverboards from reputable retailers.

In the past two months, more than 17,000 hoverboards imported from beyond the European Union have been examined due to safety concerns with more than 88 per cent failing basic safety checks.

There have been many reports for faulty hoverboards overheating and catching fire or exploding.

This is due to a number of reasons including the charger plug not having a fuse and other safety issues with cabling, battering or the cut off switch within the board.

Councillor Brian Spurr, who oversees community services, said: “We have been fortunate in Central Bedfordshire that there have been no reported incident of hoverboards catching fire or explosing.

“That’s no reason to be complacent, though, so if you are thinking of buying a hoverboard then make sure it is genuine, from a reputable retailer and meets UK safety standards. It may be tempting to save a bit of money buying a cheap alternative but that could have disastrous consequences.

“After all, the only thing that should be going up in flames this Christmas is the brandy on your Christmas pudding.”

If you are thinking of buying or have already bought a hoverboard, Trading Standards has issued the following advice:

>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 could lead to the device overheating, exploding or catching fire.

>Check the device: look out for the shape of the plug – the first unsafe products identified often had a clover-shaped plug. Is the plug fused? Also, check the device for markings or traceable information, such as the name and contact details of the manufacturer and/or importer.

>If buying online, look closely at the website before you hit the ‘buy’ button: try searching for reviews of the product or seller - do these seem genuine? Are they spelling or grammar mistakes; this can be a clue that the seller may not be a professional business. Make sure you can find an address or landline telephone number for the seller. Read any small print – does anything look odd, repetitive or incorrect?

>Don’t be dazzled by a bargain: are the prices low? If they look too good to be true, then 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 hoverboards 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. So, don’t panic buy from the first website you find – do your usual common-sense checks.

>Report it: National Trading Standards needs your help to clamp down on unsafe products from abroad. If you believe that any online or face-to-face seller is selling potentially dangerous goods, or something you’ve bought has made you suspicious, report it by calling 03454 04 05 06 in confidence.