WA: Concern over hoverboard safety and fire risks

Published: 
6 Jan 2016

Consumer Protection has expressed concern about the safety of hoverboards and the fire risks associated with some models.

Hoverboards, also known as self-balancing scooters, gliders or motorboards, are new to the market and were popular Christmas gifts, but caution is being urged when using and charging the device.

Acting Commissioner for Consumer Protection David Hillyard said six models which did not meet Australian electrical safety standards have been recalled.

“We urge owners of hoverboards to check the national recalls website and discontinue use if they have purchased one of the models listed and return them to the retailer or supplier for a refund,” Mr Hillyard said.

“A recent house fire in Victoria and other fire incidents overseas has shown that certain models can be extremely dangerous, especially if they are left charging unattended. We recommend that adults supervise the charging and use of the hoverboards at all times and not to leave them charging for longer periods than is recommended by the manufacturer.

“It would also be advisable to charge and store the hoverboards in a safe place preferably away from the main house on concrete or bricks and not near any combustible material.

“As the use of the hoverboard relies on balance, falls are highly likely. Injuries associated with falls are always a concern and we recommend that users wear a safety helmet and other protective clothing such as knee and elbow pads, wrist guards and shoes.

“Considering the electrical safety and general safety concerns of hoverboards, we would urge consumers to think carefully before deciding to purchase this device as its use involves a high degree of risk.”

If you have, or are purchasing a hoverboard, 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. Only purchase this type of product from a reputable retailer and be especially cautious if purchasing online.

“Overcharging of any non-compliant devices may cause overheating of the battery and could result in a fire,” the acting Commissioner said.

“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.

“Check the recalls website regularly as models which are found to be non-compliant with safety standards will be recalled.”

In WA authorities have already stated publicly that hoverboards cannot be used on roads and shared paths. The Department of Transport has been quoted in the media as saying that ‘while a self-balancing scooter was technically classified as a motor vehicle under the Road Traffic Act, they did not meet Australian Design Rules standards so could not be licensed. For this reason, these devices are not allowed on roads, pathways or shared-use paths, or other public areas (as per the Road Traffic Code 2000).

Details of the hoverboard models that have been recalled are available at www.recalls.gov.au. Enquiries and reports or any safety issues regarding hoverboards can be made to Consumer Protection at 1300 30 40 54 or consumer@commerce.wa.gov.au.

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