Amazon yanks hoverboards from store over fire concerns

Hoverboards are a popular product this holiday season, but it appears safety concerns have prompted Amazon to pull many brands from its digital shelves.

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If you’re shopping online for great holiday deals, at least one popular gift may get a little harder to find. Amazon recently pulled a number of high-profile hoverboard brands from its online store following reports of the electric scooters bursting into flames. The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (USCPSC) is looking into at least 10 reports of the devices overheating and causing fires, according to numerous reports like this one from NBC News.

The USCPSC isn’t naming names, so it’s unclear which brands are to blame for the issue. The general belief is that cheaper models, especially no-name brands from China, are the problem. Bigger (and more expensive) names may be a safer bet.

Amazon isn’t taking any chances, however, and is only selling a select number of hoverboards at this writing, including brands such as Hover X, Jetson, and Sharper Image. The rest are being asked to provide documentation proving their products comply with various safety standards for batteries and chargers, hoverboard maker Swagway recently told The Verge.

Airlines are also getting into the anti-hoverboard action. Alaskan, American, British Airways, Delta, Hawaiian, Jet Blue, Spirit, United, and Virgin America are all forbidding hoverboards on their aircraft. The ban includes carry-on and checked luggage. A family in Louisiana also blamed a house fire on a new hoverboard.

Delta recently said in a statement it believes the lithium-ion batteries powering the hoveboards are to blame. The airline said manufacturers are inconsistent when it comes to proper labeling for the size and power of the batteries. Delta also said many hoverboards have batteries that exceed the 160 watt hour size, which is the maximum allowed onboard a plane.

The impact on you at home: If you were thinking about snagging a hoverboard as a gift this season it might be wise to make other plans. Product review sites like Best Reviews and the Wirecutter are advising people not to buy these devices until the safety concerns are cleared up. Until then, a good ol’ skateboard is probably be a better choice just remember to get a helmet too.

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