Hover bother if your cheap gift explodes

Hoverboards may be a must-have present this year, but if you’re not careful then they could lead to your Christmas going up in smoke.
hoverboard destroyed (London Fire Brigade)hoverboard destroyed (London Fire Brigade)
hoverboard destroyed (London Fire Brigade)

Central Bedfordshire Council’s Trading Standards team has issued the warning following recent cases where self-balancing scooters, as they are officially known, have overheated and caught fire or exploded.

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

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 15,000 (88 per cent) failing basic safety checks.

Councillor Brian Spurr, Executive Member for Community Services, said: “We have been fortunate in Central Bedfordshire that there have been no reported incidents of hoverboards catching fire or exploding.

“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, have are some tips from the council’s Trading Standards team:

> 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.