SPRINGFIELD – The Office of the State Fire Marshal released a safety memo today warning residents about the fire hazards posed by hoverboards.
These self-balancing motorized scooters (hoverboards) were one of the most popular gifts this past holiday season, but they have come with their fair share of issues. WAND News recently reported the items being banned on the campuses of Western Illinois University and the University of Illinois, as well as in downtown Dixon.
Counterfeit hoverboards have also been seized recently, according to U.S. Customers and Border Protection.
The Fire Marshal’s memo reports hoverboards have come under scrutiny for incidents in which they have caught fire while charging or while in use.
According to the Fire Marshal’s Office, hoverboards are powered by rechargeable lithium-ion batteries. That particular type of battery is known to have fire-related problems in laptops, cell phones and electrical systems in airplanes.
The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission is investigating over 40 reported hoverboard fires. These incidents have been reported in 19 states, including Illinois.
Most of these fires begin with a charging hoverboard igniting. Observers often report that a “pop” or “bang” noise accompanies the start of the fire. Some of these incidents have destroyed homes, and all have put people and property at risk.
The Fire Marshal’s Office writes that one incident in Fox River Grove, Illinois, saw a battery pack overheat and explode at around 4:45 AM in the morning. The residents were reportedly able to extinguish the blaze before calling emergency personnel.
The Office of the State Fire Marshal advises residents to closely follow the manufacturer instructions for charging hoverboard batteries. Charging should occur under supervision and away from combustible materials. They urge consumers to not charge a hoverboard overnight or when it cannot be observed.
Consumers should also avoid buying hoverboard at unauthorized locations or websites that do not have information about who is selling the product and how they can be contacted if there is a problem.
Further information is available at the Consumer Product Safety Commission’s website.