Council warning over imported hoverboards

A 'hoverboard' that caught fire earlier this week.

A 'hoverboard' that caught fire earlier this week.

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With Christmas approaching and balance scooters or ‘hoverboards’ becoming a must have gift this year, Derry City and Strabane District Council has issued a warning not to buy unsafe, imported balance scooters.

The warning follows a number of issues arising with them and after a decision taken by a number of retail giants, including Argos to withdraw them from their shelves.

Argos, John Lewis and Internet retail giant, Amazon, have all stopped selling the hoverboards’ called Nevaboards.

Buyers of the hoverboards have been urged by Amazon to dispose of them after it emerged that more than 500,000 people who bought the items could be exposed to fire risks.

It is believed that those who could be exposed to fire risks bought cheaper unbranded versions from China.

Seamus Donaghy. Head of Health, Community and Wellbeing with Derry City and Strabane District Council confirmed that there had been reports of hover boards exploding or catching fire whilst being charged and that many of these reports have been linked with house fires.

“Issues are lengthy that have arisen with these products and they have found to be non-compliant under consumer safety legislation because the cut-off switch to the internal battery not activating leading to overheating of the battery with the risk of fire, plugs and associated fuses and chargers not meeting safety standards,” he said.

“Other risks include the fact that many of the unsafe products have a clover-shaped plug, the user manual is not written in clear English and there are no manufacture/importer details on the product, user manual or packaging

“If you are considering purchasing a balance board or hover board or have bought one here are some key points you need to look out for. The plug must be a three pin UK plug. It is not acceptable for the product to be supplied with a two pin plug and adaptor for use in UK sockets. If there is an adaptor, it must be fixed in such a way that it can be removed only by using a screw drive,” he said.

“The product should have information about the importer and/or manufacturer. This must include an address but may also include a website and full contact details in case of problems with the product, just a mobile phone number is not good enough.

“Instructions should be in good English, with advice about safe use, intended users (eg: by age or weight). Never leave the hover board charging unattended, especially overnight; faulty cut-off switches or a plug without a fuse could lead to the hover board overheating, exploding or catching fire. Always buy from reputable sources and stores. Always ensure that any replacement batteries or chargers are fully compatible with the item in accordance with the manufacturer’s instructions.

If you have purchased one of the hover boards or something similar that you suspect may be unsafe, our advice is to stop using it immediately, do not charge the product, “ he added.

Anyone with queries can contact Environmental Health staff at 02871 253253.