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Of Hoverboards and Helmets

Did you or your child receive a new toboggan over the holidays? How about a coveted hoverboard? While both make for great family activities and encourage active lifestyles in children and grown-ups alike, it’s important to make sure you and your family are taking proper safety precautions during play. Sometimes helmets get taken for granted – something that has been highlighted by the recent influx of injuries that have occurred this holiday season due to the new toy popularly known as a hoverboard.

The Skateboard of the Future

While the latest craze in personal transportation devices and toys may be named as though it flies, in reality it is actually a high-tech, self-balancing platform on wheels. Using gyroscopic sensors, the user shifts their body weight in order to steer – an unfamiliar technique for many that has lead to a lot of accidents.

What Makes Hoverboards Dangerous

While the phenomenon of people falling off of hoverboards is a trending topic and subject of a lot of jokes on social media, the risks should not be taken lightly. Any impact to the head or body has the potential to cause a concussion or worse.

Though there hasn’t been a major upswing in reported hoverboard accidents in Canada, there has been a reported influx in injuries to our neighbours to the South. U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission spokesperson Patty Davis has reported,

“We’ve seen at least 39 emergency room treated injuries associated with hoverboards: concussions, fractures, contusions, abrasions.” 

Not only are people falling off of hoverboards – they also have a tendency to overheat, causing the battery to combust. As with any brand new technology, new regulations for use are in the works, and hopefully the technical issues will be worked out soon.

How to Help Protect Yourself on a Hoverboard

In the meantime, when using your hoverboard, the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission has some guidelines for safe usage:

  • Avoid buying the product at a location (like a mall kiosk) or on a website that does not have information about who is selling the product and how they can be contacted if there is a problem. If you do not think you could find the seller again, were a problem to arise with your board, that should be a warning to you not to do business with them.
  • Do not charge a hoverboard overnight or when you are not able to observe the board.
  • Charge and store in an open dry area away from combustibles (meaning items that can catch fire).
  • Do not charge directly after riding. Let the device cool for an hour before charging.
  • If giving a hoverboard to someone for the holidays, leave it in its partially charged state. Do not take it out of the package to bring it to a full charge and then wrap it back up. Often, the product comes partially charged. Leave it in that state until it is ready to be used.
  • Look for the mark of a certified national testing laboratory. While this does not rule out counterfeits, the absence of such a mark means your safety is likely not a priority for that manufacturer.
  • Do not ride near vehicular traffic.
  • This tip needs to be reiterated: it is important to wear safety gear when using a hoverboard. We recommend the same safety gear that you would wear when riding a skateboard – a skateboard helmet, and knee and elbow pads and wrist guards for protection from falls.

If you suffer a fall from a hoverboard, be sure to report it and seek medical attention – especially if you suspect a concussion.

Be safe and have fun!

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About the Author:

Bert Oucharek

B.Sc. (H.K.) Reg. Kin. Vice President of MyoWorx

Bert is the Vice President of MyoWorx® Inc. He has been with Terry Moore and the MyoWorx® Team since its inception in 2008. Bert is a graduate of the University of Guelph Honours Bachelor of…

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