With the holiday around the corner, more and more parents are looking for green gifts for their children. What kinds of gifts are both safe and leave small carbon footprints? If green living is a concern of yours, then buying a hoverboard may be your top concern.
Hoverboards, swegways, self-balancing boards or rideables – no matter what you call them, the big news of Christmas 2015 was that they were catching fire and putting lives at risk. Cities were banning them from public spaces, they were forbidden on planes, and a mass-recall was issued from multiple major retailers.
Thankfully, organisations responsible for quality standards in both the US and UK stepped up to the mark and provided clear recommendations about how to identify boards with safety-compliant components. Fast-forward to the present day, and it’s much easier to choose a board that, thankfully, won’t set your home or family alight.
Of course, being a handless, electronic balancing board that travels up to 13mph brings more hazards than faulty wiring. If you’re preparing to put one under the tree this year, read up on the best steps for making sure it doesn’t all end in tears.
Who are you buying for?
Hoverboards have a maximum weight tolerance, and buying a hoverboard for someone that exceeds this will result in unsafe use. Whether you’re buying for a child, teenager or adult, make sure you’re purchasing the correct size. As an approximation, the larger the wheels, the higher the weight tolerance. Most standard hoverboards have 6.5-inch wheels and can carry up to 100kg, while boards with 10-inch wheels typically support up to 120kg. Always check the manufacturer guidelines if you are uncertain.
There are no legal age restrictions on hoverboards, so it’s up to you to decide if you think your child is too young (or perhaps your partner is too old?) to ride one. At any age, helmets and safety pads are advised.
Where will it be used?
In the UK, hoverboards are not permitted on pavements or roads. They can be used on private property and some public spaces set aside for recreational activities, like parks and skate parks (check with your local council rules before taking it outside though).
If the hoverboard you’re buying is likely to be used on anything other than a smooth, flat surface, it’s best to look for an all-terrain board. These have rugged wheels and higher performance specs to offer better grip and less chance of overheating when used on uneven ground.
Where are you buying from?
It’s natural to shop around to find the best deal on hoverboards, but do be careful to purchase one from a reputable supplier. Find a company that is CE approved, and that tests its products and components in UK facilities to make sure that the board adheres to UK safety laws.
Prices will vary between brands and models, but if you find a hoverboard for less than £200, you should seriously question why. Many of the problems that plagued early commercial hoverboards were low-quality wiring and counterfeit batteries manufactured in unregulated factories. Don’t take the risk, and pay a fair price for a reliable product.
Avoid buying boards from market stalls, or online market places where sellers can hide behind anonymity. Instead choose a company like Bluefin, who are transparent about their manufacture and supply chain (you can buy Bluefin hoverboards online here).
What does it look like?
If you’re buying a hoverboard in person (rather than online), then there are a few indicators of safety that you can look for, for example:
- Recognised branding or manufacturer name on product packaging;
- A three-pin, fused plug with a BS 1363 code on the back;
- High-quality CE marking that uses the proper logo;
- Product instructions and safety statements that don’t contain misspellings or poor translations.
As with any product, make sure to read the instruction booklet before charging and use. It’s not advised that a hoverboard is left charging unattended, and riders should make sure they dismount and stop using the board if it becomes hot. Stay safe, and have fun!