Hoverboards have grown in popularity over the past couple of years, and in that time have gotten a really bad reputation for being dangerous. They are the bad boy of the scooter family. The exact number of incidents involving hoverboards is unknown, but in 2015 over 2.5 million hoverboards have been sold in the United States alone (source), so only a small percentage of hoverboard owners experience any major dramas. So are hoverboards safe? If you have your heart set on having a safe hoverboarding experience, then follow the below guidelines and you will be incident free.
There are really only two types of hoverboard related incidents:
- Accidents from falling (broken bones, scrapes, bruises).
- Fires from the batteries exploding.
Both of these types of hoverboard incidents can be prevented and avoided by following a few key rules.
Hoverboard Safety Tips [Infographic]
Wear safety gear
You would be surprised at how many people don’t think of using a helmet or any sort of protective clothing when riding a hoverboard. Even if you consider yourself to be a hoverboard pro, you will fall off. That is almost guaranteed. Basically, if you would wear it when roller blading or riding your bike, then you should wear it when you are hoverboarding. A helmet is a given – in fact, there are special helmets designed especially for scooters and hoverboards, although bike helmets are fine. While wrist guards, knee pads or elbow pads are not as necessary as a helmet, if you have a pre-existing injury or are more accident prone, then it definitely will not hurt. Also, wearing proper attire is greatly recommended. It is much easier to ride a hoverboard with sneakers than sandals or especially heels.
This is another great tip that gets ignored by a lot of people who think that they are instantly a hoverboard pro before they have even seen one. Start slow. Find the ‘beginner’ setting (if your board has one) and gradually start going faster. Starting on a soft surface like inside on carpet is also a good idea, so you can get your footing and get a feel for the board where it will not hurt you if (and when) you fall off. Another top is to not show off or get overconfident. Many accidents involving hoverboards occur when people try to push the board further that it should, given their skill level. Going as fast as possible and attempting a sharp turn is likely to result in you ending up on the ground.
If you insist on taking your hoverboard to the most crowded areas you can find, then there is a very high chance of taking a tumble. Hoverboards are all about balance, and having people bump into you is not the best way to keep your balance. Also in many areas, it is actually illegal to ride your hoverboard, and these laws are for your own safety. Chances are the laws exist for a reason, and it is because of something like large crowds or uneven ground cover or other dangers. Shopping centres, roads, many parks and festivals to name a few. So do your research and you will be a lot more likely to stay safe.
Ride on proper terrain
Hoverboards are not skateboards, bikes or ordinary scooters. They are mechanical devices with small wheels and quite a limited range of movement. They are not designed to be ridden on rough, uneven surfaces, and are definitely not designed to do tricks (such as riding off of curbs or over steps). The best and safest place that you can ride your hoverboard is on a flat footpath, inside a house, on short grass, or any other road or path that is flat and smooth. Hills are not advised as there is no way to properly control the board on a steep slope, and uneven surfaces make it nearly impossible to control.
Do not charge overnight or leave unattended
This is possibly the most important piece of advice and one that you need to take very seriously. There have been houses that have burnt down because of hoverboard fires due to overcharging. There is a very good reason why there is a recommended charging time of only around 2 hours (depending on the model). This is because hoverboards use lithium ion batteries which cannot handle being overcharged (source). People that leave their hoverboards on charge for hours at a time risk having the batteries burst into flames. The use of the word explosion is used as a scare tactic by the media – no hoverboard has actually properly exploded. The battery simply overheats and catches on fire. Sure it is not the most intelligent design to install them with a lithium battery, but as long as you do not overcharge, then there will be no fires.
Hoverboards do have a mechanism which will stop the charge when it detects that the battery is full, however sometimes this handy feature fails, and so the battery will continue charging long after it is full. So while technically it shouldn’t overcharge, having it on charge all night is just taking a big unnecessary risk.
In a nutshell, it is not the hoverboard’s fault when injuries occur from their riders not wearing safety gear. The hoverboard is only as safe as you use it, and if you are not going to look after yourself on it, then chances are you will hurt yourself.