SAN FRANCISCO – Those Christmas hoverboards are landing kids and their parents in emergency rooms, the latest safety issue for the futuristic skateboards.
The popular gift already had a dangerous reputation following reports of hoverboards suddenly catching fire. Amazon stopped selling some models this month because of concerns they were fire hazards. The federal government is investigating 22 reports of hoverboards bursting into flames.
On Christmas, sudden fires weren’t the most dangerous part of using a hoverboard. Gravity was.
As of Monday afternoon, there were 70 reports emergency room visits due to hoverboards, according to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission. The injuries were primarily from falls and collisions. There was also one visit due to smoke-inhalation from a hoverboard fire, one by someone who got a finger stuck in a wheel, and another after a hoverboard ran over a finger.
Adding insult to actual injuries, many of the falls were shared on social media. The hashtag #hoverboardfail took off over the weekend on Twitter and Instagram, documenting spills, collisions and crashes. Though kids were likely the recipients of most new hoverboards on Christmas morning, many of the injured were parents.
South Florida congressman Carlos Curbelo went to the emergency room and ended up with his arm in a sling after falling off his nephew’s hoverboard. The congressman tweeted a photo of his injury on Saturday.
Athletic skill doesn’t guarantee safety. Baseball player Dan Uggla fell off a hoverboard while listening to Justin Beiber. His wife posted a video of the minor spill on Instagram.
BBC North America editor Jon Sopel tweeted that his son Max hurt his wrist on a hoverboard and ended up in a hospital. Twitter user Syl said her father fell off a hoverboard and went to the hospital.
In Australia, a teenager was knocked unconscious after trying his new board and came to after paramedics arrived. He was taken in an ambulance to the hospital for more tests.
Jordan Anthony fell after mixing last year’s dangerous tech habit, extreme selfies, with a hoverboard.
The CPSC issued a warning about the products earlier this month. A spokesperson says the agency is monitoring injuries and investigates each new fire incident. It is also testing various hoverboards in its own lab.
“While the fire hazard has generated significant attention, I do not want to downplay the fall hazard,” said CPSC Chairman Elliot Kaye in a statement earlier this month. “I am also concerned that there is no safety standard in place for hoverboards. Strong safety standards protect consumers.”
The agency issued a number of recommendations for hoverboard customers, including tips for charging, where to buy one, and to wear safety gear like a helmet and wrist guards when riding.