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Don’t get in bother in Harlow over a hover!

Communities / Fri 4th Dec 2015 at 04:30pm

Hover BoardsTrading Standards warns consumers and businesses over safety of imported ‘hoverboards’

Trading Standards officers in Essex are warning consumers as well as retailers and would-be importers in the county about the risks associated with self-balancing scooters, also known as ‘hoverboards’.

Essex County Council’s own product safety watchdogs have been active in carrying out checks on imported products entering the country at Stansted Airport and via a network of inland clearance warehouses. Examinations of imported consumer products have included shipments of unsafe hoverboards, and their findings bolster national calls for vigilance this Christmas on the grounds that most hoverboards intercepted at point of import have been unsafe.

Cllr David Finch, Leader of Essex County Council, said: “Hoverboards appear to be the current craze but I want to warn residents and businesses of the dangers of importing, buying and using boards that do not pass safety tests.”

Essex Trading Standards officers have found the same sorts of safety issues with hoverboards coming into Essex that have been identified in national reports.

The obvious problems are with the battery charger sets supplied with the ‘boards. They typically come in with sub-standard unfused plugs (or with unsafe fuses where fitted), inadequate mains cables, and poor instructions to make safe use of the product.

More hidden is the issue with battery over-charging cut-off circuitry, as without an effective built-in safety device the powerful lithium-ion batteries used can become unstable and catch fire.

Poor design and sub-standard materials can make these products a fire and electrocution risk, and hoverboard batteries and chargers have been linked to domestic fires in the UK and abroad. Experience has shown that assurances from Chinese suppliers are not always reliable, so it’s critical that Essex importers carry out their own safety tests before putting consumers at potential risk.

The craze for self-balancing scooters has led businesses not expert in this type of product into dabbling in the unknown. The most unusual examples identified by Trading Standards officers in Essex have been a dental supplies company and a printing firm. However, as well as smaller businesses dealing in these novel products some High Street retailers have been caught out by buying unsafe hoverboards, and recalls are underway.

Three consignments of hoverboards are currently being detained by Trading Standards because of serious safety concerns. More unsafe imports are expected.

Advice from Essex Trading Standards for consumers with hoverboards is never to leave the device charging unattended, especially overnight. A lack of effective overcharge-protection can lead to the battery overheating, and possibly catching fire.

By being part of a National Trading Standards network of product safety import checkers, Essex Trading Standards has access to intelligence that can lead it to unsafe goods when they come into the country.

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