The US government recommends hoverboard users keep a fire extinguisher nearby

A bumpy ride.
A bumpy ride.
Image: AP/Elaine Thompson
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The US government has issued its lengthiest statement yet on the hoverboard, the popular Christmas gift that made headlines after a wave after wave of them suddenly caught fire. The verdict—be very, very careful.

Elliot Kaye, chairman of the US Consumer Product Safety Commission, wrote a long report that has been published on the agency website. In it, he notes that the agency will “continue to work diligently to find the root cause of the hoverboard fires that have occurred throughout the country.” He also recommended consumers that choose to ride hoverboards take the following measures:

  • Have a working fire extinguisher nearby while charging or using these boards in and around your home.
  • Charge in an open area away from combustible materials.
  • Gear up before riding, which means putting on a skateboard helmet, elbow and knee pads and wrist guards.
  • Do not use a hoverboard on or near a road.

Kaye also praised Amazon for promising US customers that it would fully refund all purchases of hoverboards made on its website—something that Amazon has not publicly done. (They did, however, promise to refund customers in the UK who bought hoverboards with non-compliant electric plugs). Amazon couldn’t be reached immediately to confirm whether the company would now be refunding US customers, too. Last December the e-commerce provider cracked down on hoverboard sales, and required vendors to submit proof of safety certifications before allowing them to list.

Kaye did not say whether some or all hoverboards would be banned from sale in the US. “As we move forward with our investigation of the fall and fire hazards relating to hoverboards, all options remain on the table for CPSC,” he wrote, adding that the agency is working with the US Customs and Border Protection, the US Department of Transportation and the Federal Aviation Administration to understand the root cause of malfunctions.