Caution: This Year’s Hottest Gift May Burst Into Flames

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Hoverboards -- who wouldn't want one of those? But their risk as a fire hazard has prompted the postal service and airlines to bar them and some retailers to pull them off the shelves.

Hoverboards are this season’s must-have gift. But you may want to think twice before you gift-wrap one and slide it under the Christmas tree.

It turns out the electronic self-balancing scooters are not just figuratively hot. Several consumers have reported that their hoverboards have suddenly burst into flames.

The Consumer Product Safety Commission is investigating the hoverboard-related fires across the United States, including testing new and fire-damaged boards.

“Every consumer who is riding a hoverboard, who purchased one to give as a gift during the holidays, or who is thinking about buying one deserves to know if there is a safety defect,” Elliot Kaye, chairman of the CPSC, said in a statement.

One probable cause is overheating by the boards’ lithium ion batteries. Faulty cables, plugs and chargers may also create a fire risk.

Hoverboards have been banned by America’s biggest airlines, including American, Delta, Southwest and United, because of fire concerns. The United States Postal Service also announced that boards with lithium batteries could no longer be shipped by air.

Effective immediately and until further notice, USPS will ship hoverboards using only Standard Post/Parcel Select. This product travels on ground transportation, due to the potential safety hazards of lithium batteries.

Amazon briefly yanked nearly all its hoverboard listings citing fire concerns, but many of the boards are now back on sale, CBS reports.

“Amazon and other retailers are now demanding — and touting — that the hoverboards they sell have Underwriters Laboratories-approved battery chargers, yanking some but keeping many models available during the height of the Christmas shopping season,” CBS said.

Amazon recently sent emails to many of its U.K. customers who purchased hoverboards, notifying them that their boards’ plugs don’t meet safety standards and urging them to throw out or recycle the boards, CNN Money reports. Amazon promised those customers a full refund.

“We regret the inconvenience this may cause you but trust you will understand that your safety and satisfaction is our highest priority,” Amazon explained in the email.

Though some hoverboards have the UL mark on the board or the item’s box, the certification may not refer to the board, but to the battery charger.

“We have certified many varieties of battery chargers,” John Drengenberg, an electrical engineer and UL’s consumer safety director, told CBS. “That in no way says anything about a hoverboard being approved.”

Yikes. As a parent, I’d be really hesitant to give my child a hoverboard, especially knowing the potential dangers associated with it.

What do you think of hoverboards? Have you tried one yet? Share your comments below or on our Facebook page.

Stacy Johnson

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