Hoverboard Injuries, Fires on Rise

Hoverboard Injuries, Fires on Rise

Dec. 10, 2015 — Adam Collelo thought he had bought his 12-year-old son Luke the coolest birthday present: a new $499 hoverboard.

Luke looked like he was having so much fun that Collelo, 34, decided to give it a try. “I got on, got the hang of it, and everything was going good,” says Collelo, of Milwaukee.

The next day, trouble struck. “I don’t know if I was overconfident, or what,” he says. “I kind of Super-manned off it and somersaulted.” Upon landing, he says, “my whole body went numb.” His arm was severely swollen. At the emergency room, they confirmed that he’d fractured his radius — a forearm bone extending from the elbow to the thumb side of the wrist. “I’ll probably need 12 weeks off work,” he says.

And the hoverboard? He confiscated it, and plans to sell it and give Luke the money to buy himself another birthday present.

Hoverboard Injuries, Fires

Stories like Collelo’s haven’t prevented hoverboards, also known as electric scooters, from being one of the hottest new Christmas gifts this year. They look like Segways but without the handles. Riders balance on the platform and are propelled by two wheels.

But Patty Davis, a spokeswoman for the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC), says injuries have become increasingly common in recent months. Since August 2015, the agency has received 29 reports of emergency-room injuries related to the hoverboards, as well as reports on fires, overheating, and sparking.

The injuries treated in emergency rooms include fractures, strains, sprains, contusions, lacerations, and head injury, she says.

Multiple accounts of the devices catching fire and blowing up have been reported around the country, too. New York City has banned them, with police citing an existing code against motorized scooters.

“In general, CPSC is looking at the entire line of hoverboard products and we are investigating six fires with hoverboard,” Davis says. “There aren’t any standards for these products.”

British officials have banned the devices in public.

What the Doctors and Fire Marshals Say

Basil Besh, MD, a spokesman for the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons, says doctors are seeing more trauma injuries related to hoverboards. Riders need to have good balance on the devices, which generally don’t have a handle. The faster riders go, the higher the injury risk, Besh says. The devices can go up to 12 miles per hour.

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