Your hoverboard is a potential deathtrap.
We didn't say it. The US government did.
Hoverboards "pose an unreasonable risk of fire" if they don't meet voluntary safety standards, the US Consumer Product Safety Commission said in a letter Thursday to manufacturers, importers and retailers. No hoverboard currently on the market meets those standards, which cover everything from the boards' electrical systems to labeling.
The CPSC also said it might seize or recall hoverboards that don't meet the standards.
The commission's criticism is the latest twist in the peculiar history of hoverboards, the popular if misnamed mode of transportation that has gained so much popularity the head coach of the Carolina Panthers had to bar the team from using them ahead of the Super Bowl. The self-balancing boards became a hot item last year after celebrities like Justin Bieber and Kendall Jenner posted shots of themselves zipping around (and falling off) the boards.
But just as quickly, hoverboards transitioned from must-have toy to health hazard after reports of the boards catching fire or exploding started rolling in last December. In the past three months alone, the CPSC has received reports of 52 hoverboard fires resulting in over $2 million in property damage.
The agency said many of these incidents could have been prevented if the self-balancing boards met the newly outlined standards.
"Consumers risk serious injury or death if their self-balancing scooters ignite and burn," wrote Robert Howell, acting director of the CPSC's Office of Compliance and Field Operations, in the letter.
The CPSC letter said all boards should be certified safe by Underwriters Laboratories, a widely used independent testing firm, and meet United Nations requirements for lithium-ion battery products.
UL began accepting hoverboards for testing in February, but has not certified any boards yet.
"Not one [hoverboard] has a certification by UL," said John Drengenberg, the consumer safety director at UL. "Manufacturers would be wise to look at it and make sure their product meets the requirements."
UL could not provide an estimate for when a certified hoverboard might hit the market, Drengenberg said, adding that product testing generally takes a few weeks.
Consumers who already own a non-UL-certified hoverboard should contact the manufacturer and demand a refund, said the CPSC. Consumers should stop using any uncertified hoverboards and let the batteries in the device run down, the agency recommended.
This CPSC action alone isn't a recall, but it will likely prompt recalls by major manufacturers and retailers. Companies that continue to make or sell hoverboards that don't meet standards could face civil and criminal penalties, said the agency in its letter.
Correction, 10:25 p.m. PT: This story misstated the name of the federal regulatory agency. It is the US Consumer Product Safety Commission.