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Hoverboard batteries concern local firefighters

Last Updated Dec 28, 2015 at 9:37 pm PDT

Vancouver Fire and Rescue services

VANCOUVER (NEWS 1130) — Captain Jonathan Gormick with Vancouver Fire and Rescue Services is keeping a close eye on the batteries of trendy hoverboards.

“It’s probably inevitable that if safety standards don’t improve, we might see fires in Canada in the near future. Obviously there is a concern where ion lithium batteries get bigger for products like these hoverboards. The potential for fire is higher and the severity of the fire is much higher,” Gormick said.

The U.S. Product Safety Commission is investigating 22 reports of hoverboard fires and 70 emergency room reports of people coming in with burns from the devices.

Commission spokeswoman Patty Davis says owners need to monitor their hoverboards while they’re charging.

“We recommend that you do not charge a hoverboard when you’re not there. Make sure that you are present and keep an eye on that hoverboard when it is charging,” Davis said.

Bruce Cran, President of the Consumers’ Association of Canada, says lithium ion batteries have been a thorn in their side for a decade.

“They’ve caused all sorts of problems. They’ve been responsible for fires in planes and they have injured people. At the moment, people are pointing fingers at various products but we’re not prepared to go after a specific product. So we’re not prepared to condemn the hoverboard without doing something with the ion batteries,” Cran said.

Amazon in the United Kingdom is telling its customers to throw out certain hoverboards and to contact the retailer for a refund.

Several airlines, including Air Canada and WestJet, have banned hoverboards on their planes.

Many of the products are manufactured in China.