Hell Hovers Over: Hoverboards Pose Threat to Fire Safety

The “hoverboard” had always been a device that was admired and dreamed of since its presence in classic films like “Back to The Future.” Recently, it has been adapted to modern times and is now everywhere in the world. However, there seems to be an issue with these new devices.

They can suddenly light on fire.

Yes, you read that right. In fact, according to SUNY New Paltz associate director of environmental health & safety Fire Protection Officer Scott Schulte, there have been numerous recent reports of fires involving these hoverboards.

“In response to these happenings, I discussed with the administration at SUNY New Paltz if we should take the step of banning hoverboards on campus,” Schulte said.

After the meeting with administration, Schulte said the consensus was that the boards are not to be banned until they hear back from the United States Consumer Product Safety Commission, (USCPSC), the group currently investigating the hoverboards.

The USCPSC is three months into investigating every report of fires caused by hoverboards. According to Schulte, they will soon release their findings to the public, determining the action SUNY New Paltz will take in light of the information.

“We don’t want to prohibit the use of these devices on campus unless we know for certain that the issue was caused solely by the hoverboards,” Schulte said. “While the Commission is actively investigating at least 10 fires in nine states involving hoverboards, their determinations have not yet been released.”

Due to the decision of the administration to hold off on passing judgement on the hoverboards, Schulte sent an email last December, cautioning New Paltz campus students, faculty and staff about the boards until further notice.

While reports allude to the lithium battery inside the hoverboards being the cause of the fire, Schulte said the email informs students of ways to help prevent these fires while investigations continue.

To mitigate the chance of hoverboard fires, Schulte encourages anyone who purchases a hover board to follow specific safety measures at their home or on campus to avoid fires; leave the board partially uncharged if it is being wrapped as a gift, do not leave the board on a charger past the needed time to charge it, do not modify anything about the board and avoid purchasing the boards from less than reputable locations such as mall kiosks and unfamiliar websites.

In the meantime, the USCPSC issued a letter on Feb. 18 to manufacturing companies who supply to retailers. They believe there is an unreasonable risk of injury or death that can result from these devices and are urging manufacturers to make sure they have met all of the safety standard requirements.

“It is important to ensure that the boards meet the standards of the United States Safety Measures,” Schulte said.

In addition to the concerns of fire safety and the measures being taken to sort out the mess, students must take all necessary precautions as they relate to riding these devices. Schulte encourages students to research and educate themselves so they know everything about these hoverboards.