Don't buy hoverboards over explosion risk, senior fire officer warns

A hoverboard seized by Inverclyde trading standards Credit: Trading Standards

A boy whose hoverboard caught fire after just six days says he was "absolutely terrified" when it burst into flames.

Henry Ensell was bought the popular gift when it exploded in his home, burning his mother's arm and legs.

A self-balancing scooter that caught fire while charging Credit: London Fire Brigade

A Senior Fire Officer has told ITV News people should not purchase hoverboards after 17,000 were seized over health and safety concerns.

Henry's mother Jo told our Consumer Editor Chris Choi it was "like a bomb going off" when their self-balancing scooter caught fire.

Credit: ITV News

Many retailers have recalled "hoverboards" and thousands have been impounded at British ports after testing revealed they were at risk of exploding.

The futuristic gadget - also known as a self-balancing scooter - is tipped to be one of this year's most popular Christmas gifts.

Demand for the boards - which are a hit with celebrities including Justin Bieber, Brooklyn Beckham, John Terry and even sprinter Usain Bolt - has skyrocketed.

Trading Standards have warned customers to not "let a new fashion or craze cloud their judgement" when buying a board.

A hoverboard seized by Inverclyde Trading Standards Credit: Trading Standards

Trading Standards have revealed more than 17,000 hoverboards imported from beyond the EU have been examined over the last seven weeks, of which over 15,000 (88%) failed basic safety checks.

The investigation revealed safety issues with the plug, cabling, charger, battery or the cutoff switch within the board, which often fails.

Many of the gadgets were found to have non-compliant plugs without fuses, which increases the risk of the device overheating, exploding or even catching fire.

Some retailers have also recalled the product over safety fears.

At the weekend, Halfords recalled its own-brand model, the £499 Air Runner Balance Board, after it was found that some had been sold with a mains plug and charger that did not comply with British standards.

Wholesaler Costco also issued a safety notice in November over Air Runner hoverboards sold in their UK stores.

Nick Boles, Consumer Minister, said: “At this time of year, consumers are under pressure to get the best presents for their loved ones, however it is important that their safety is put above all else."

A pink hoverboard that was seized by Inverclyde Trading Standards Credit: Trading Standards

London Fire Brigade have been called out to fires caused by the hoverboards and warned users not to leave them charging unattended.

Two men had to escape through a first floor window from a blaze at a house in Morden, south London after a charging hoverboard caught fire.

Customers have also been warned by the CPS riding them on pavements and roads is illegal.

What can customers look out for?

An electric unicycle caught fire in a flat in Southwark Credit: London Fire Brigade
  • Trading Standards say customers should check that the three pin plug on the device states it is made to BS 1363. If it doesn’t include this information, then don’t buy the product

  • Trading Standards also advise to never leave the device charging unattended – especially overnight

  • A faulty cut-off switch (designed to stop the battery from continuing to charge once fully charged) or a plug without a fuse, as seen in many products detained so far, could lead to the device overheating, exploding or catching fire

  • They said to check the device and look at the shape of the plug – the first unsafe products identified often had a clover-shaped plug

  • Also check the device for markings or traceable information, such as the name and contact details of the manufacturer and / or importer

  • If buying online, look closely at the website to check it is genuine before you hit the ‘buy’ button