Are hoverboards a fire hazard? 7 ON YOUR SIDE investigates

A hoverboard on fire. (Photo: ABC7 file)

WASHINGTON (ABC7) -- The hottest gift of the holiday season just got a whole lot hotter, as in, on fire.

For weeks, international media outlets were reporting that some hoverboards, the highly popular, self-balancing, electric skateboards, were catching fire.

This week, the Consumer Product Safety Commission confirmed to 7 On Your Side that it is investigating six complaints that the boards caught fire in Florida, Texas, Alabama, Louisiana, California and Ohio.

The CPSC also recorded 29 ER-related injuries: 13 fractures, 6 sprains, 4 contusions, 2 lacerations, 1 head injury and 3 arm injuries. 7 On Your Side was the first in the country to report on the CPSC's findings in November. At that time, only eight ER-related injuries had been recorded.

This week, someone in a Washington State mall captured cell phone video of a board catching fire near a kiosk, where the boards are often sold.

At least one board caught fire while it was being ridden. In another, the owner said the board was charging when it exploded, and set the house on fire.

The National Association of State Fire Marshals warns consumers to be careful where you buy your hoverboard. Cheap boards sold on the internet and directly from overseas may use low quality lithium batteries that can overheat, catch fire, and explode.

Look for boards with a well-known brand that offer a warranty. The Swagway uses a high-end battery by LG Samsung with the Underwriters Laboratories (UL) mark to indicate it has been tested. But even the Swagway's User Manual warns, "Over-worked lithium batteries can explode. Excessive discharge due to modification (over-volting) is dangerous."

Because of the potential fire hazard, some airlines are banning hoverboards on-board. This site compiled a comprehensive list of the airlines' various policies regarding the transport of hoverboards as carry-ons and checked baggage.

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