Hoverboard Injuries, Fires on Rise
Editor's note: This story was updated Jan. 22, 2016, with news that the Consumer Product Safety Commission is investigating and that Amazon is offering refunds for hoverboards.
Dec. 10, 2015 -- Adam Collelo thought he had bought his 12-year-old son Luke the coolest birthday present: a new $499 hoverboard.
Luke looked like he was having so much fun that Collelo, 34, decided to give it a try. "I got on, got the hang of it, and everything was going good," says Collelo, of Milwaukee.
The next day, trouble struck. "I don't know if I was overconfident, or what," he says. "I kind of Super-manned off it and somersaulted.'' Upon landing, he says, "my whole body went numb." His arm was severely swollen. At the emergency room, they confirmed that he’d fractured his radius -- a forearm bone extending from the elbow to the thumb side of the wrist. "I'll probably need 12 weeks off work," he says.
And the hoverboard? He confiscated it, and plans to sell it and give Luke the money to buy himself another birthday present.
Hoverboard Injuries, Fires
Stories like Collelo’s haven’t prevented hoverboards, also known as electric scooters, from being one of the hottest new Christmas gifts this year. They look like Segways but without the handles. Riders balance on the platform and are propelled by two wheels.
But Patty Davis, a spokeswoman for the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC), says injuries have become increasingly common in recent months. Since August 2015, the agency has received 29 reports of emergency-room injuries related to the hoverboards, and is investigating at least 10 fires in 9 states.
The injuries treated in emergency rooms include fractures, strains, sprains, contusions, lacerations, and head injury, she says.
Multiple accounts of the devices catching fire and blowing up have been reported around the country, too. The country's three largest airlines -- Delta, United and American -- said they would no longer allow them on planes because they pose a fire hazard. New York City has banned them, with police citing an existing code against motorized scooters. And Amazon has pulled some models from its web site, reportedly asking manufacturers to prove their devices are safe to use. Amazon said in January it was offering refunds to customers who purchased a hoverboard through the site.
The CPSC said Jan. 20 it was investigating "dozens of fires" involving hoverboards, calling it a "priority investigation."
Davis says the safety commission is looking at the entire line of hoverboard products. “There aren't any standards for these products," she says.