Hoverboards were everywhere this holiday season, but mostly they resided at the top of Christmas lists around the country. Parents snapped up the toy anywhere they could get it, and with the high demand, it was inevitable that the market would be flooded with knock-offs when the original manufacturer couldn’t keep up.
It wasn’t long before problems began to crop up; WIRED reported in mid-December that “An exploding two-wheeler burned down a house in Louisiana a few weeks ago; another scooter combusted in the same state in the past week. A gyroboard caused significant damage to a home in New York a few days ago. Ata mall in Washington this week, a scooterboard caught fire and shoppers were forced to evacuate. The perceived danger is significant enough that major airlines have banned the little vehicles altogether.”
Why is this happening?
Sometimes the boards are plugged in and charging; sometimes, they seem to explode for no reason during use. The problem lies with the Lithium Ion batteries used in the devices. Li-ion batteries power just about everything we use on a daily basis, from cell phones to tablets and laptops. These expensive devices use high-quality batteries from reputable manufacturers.
With the production rush for the holiday season, manufacturers of hoverboards turned to mass-produced li-ion batteries from China. Quality control at some of these plants is less than ideal, and can result in an internal misalignment that can cause the batteries to short and discharge all of their stored power explosively. Even if the product is manufactured correctly, constant collisions can damage the delicate internal components with the same result.
Even if the batteries are fine, the charging cables may be defective. Jay Whitacre, Professor of Materials Science & Engineering at Carnegie Mellon University, said, “If there is not proper protection to the cells, and if the charger is defective, the cells can be severely overcharged. In cases of severe overcharge, even perfectly made cells will eventually fail...”
Keep your children safe
Parents everywhere be warned; there is no clear way to know which devices are affected. Worse, there is no good way to test for the problem, which can manifest after just a few charges or after hundreds of uses. If getting the device out of your house isn’t an option, keep a fire extinguisher handy and only charge the devices under supervision.
If you or someone you know has been injured because of a defective product, you may be entitled to compensation. The experienced Ohio and Kentucky defective product attorneys at Crandall & Pera Law can evaluate your case and help get you the compensation you deserve. Contact us today for a free consultation.