While most recent news reports have focused on the fire hazards associated with hoverboards, emergency rooms and family physicians are reporting increased injuries sustained from riding what many call the hands-free Segway. Sales of hoverboards increased over the recent holiday season, and so too did reports of broken bones, wrist injuries, concussions, bruises, lacerations and road rash. Children and teenagers have accounted for the majority of incidents, but some adults who want to try out the new toy have also ended their session with a trip to the emergency room.
A hoverboard is basically a motorized skateboard. Riders control the movement of the device by leaning forward to move in that direction and leaning backward to reverse their movement. Pressure placed on the right or left side of the foot will allow the rider to spin and turn.
Mastering control of the hoverboard takes practice and good balance. Leaning too far forward or too far backward can cause the rider to fall off of the device, striking their head, injuring their wrist as they break their fall and suffering serious cuts and bruises when they come into contact with hard road and sidewalk surfaces.
News reports of hoverboards catching fire while charging and even some occurring while a rider was operating the device have caught the public’s attention, but more focus needs to be put on prevention of injuries associated with the use of these products. The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) advises hoverboard users to wear protective equipment to avoid serious injury. Helmets should be worn to protect from head injury that can happen when riders fall from the hoverboard or if they are struck by an automobile and thrown from the device. Wrist guards, knee pads and elbow pads should also be worn to protect these areas.
Moreover, the CPSC advises consumers to ride their hoverboards in areas free of automobile traffic. A rider on a hoverboard is no match for the weight and power of a motor vehicle. Serious and fatal injuries could occur from such an accident. Consumers should also buy products that have been approved by a certified national testing laboratory. This will ensure that the product has met specific safety standards.
Charging the hoverboard should only take place while it can be supervised and not overnight. Be sure the device has cooled down before charging it, and keep it away from curtains, furniture and other flammable items.