Hoverboards have been hounded by safety and quality issues so a federal safety official recently went so far as to recommend keeping a fire extinguisher close when going for a ride.

A number of these two-wheeled electric scooters were recently reported to burst into flames during charging or actual use, revealing problems knock-offs have, such as flimsy hoverboard construction, poor battery quality and faulty components.

In a statement issued Wednesday, Chairman Elliot Kaye of the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) assured that they are actively probing a number of hoverboard manufacturers and sellers.

A separate announcement lists companies that are under investigation.

“[T]here are no safety standards for these self-balancing products. That is unacceptable,” said Kaye, pushing for specific basic safety technologies in hoverboard units to prevent overheating and combustion dangers.

In the meantime, Kaye’s agency proposed specific cautionary measures when using hoverboards, particularly having a working fire extinguisher nearby while using or charging them.

In addition, users are recommended to charge in an open area away from combustible items; wear proper safety gear before riding (including a helmet, wrist guards and elbow and knee pads); and avoid hoverboard use on or near a road.

Kaye lauded Amazon for voluntarily offering refunds on the controversial products, following its earlier move of pulling several brands from the site.

He also cited the announcement of Underwriters Laboratories (UL) on how UL certification for battery packs and other components does not translate to UL certification for hoverboards themselves – something that still does not currently exist.

"At this time, the presence of a UL mark on hoverboards or their packaging should not be an indication to consumers of the product’s safety,” Kaye added, warning that the mark may even be used for counterfeiting or misleading consumers.

Both UL and ASTM International, another major safety certification agency, are creating safety standards to govern hoverboards, with input from the CPSC.

The CPSC, U.S. Customs and Border Protection, U.S. Department of Transportation and the Federal Aviation Administration are all sharing updates on hoverboard safety and are confiscating counterfeit units for consumer protection.

Photo: Tamaki Sono | Flickr

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