Consumer Alert: Hoverboards Send Dozens to the ER

Medically reviewed in April 2022

While hoverboards were one of 2015’s most sought-after gifts, consumer safety experts are warning parents that the two-wheeled, motorized skateboards have actually sent dozens (and counting) to emergency rooms across the country. Some of these injuries include concussions, fractures and even internal organ damage.

Many people have taken to social media to post images and videos of their hoverboard accidents. Professional boxer Mike Tyson posted a short clip of himself falling flat on his back on Instagram, and later shared with TMZ Sports that his doctor actually ordered him to say in bed for a week. 

Many of the patients showing up at the ER are people trying out hoverboards for the first time, says David Feldman, MD, medical director at Good Samaritan Hospital’s Department of Emergency. He adds, “I saw a patient who was trying out a hoverboard at the store. She wasn’t wearing a helmet, and the hoverboard actually went out from under her, causing her to fall from a little bit above standing height with a lot of force. She fractured her wrist and hit the back of her head, causing a skull fracture.”

Some hoverboard falls could even cause long-term damage, adds Dr. Feldman. “If you fell and broke your hip, you could have permanent, decreased mobility,” he adds. And, head injuries could cause life-threatening intracranial bleeding.

Riding a hoverboard is definitely an acquired skill, because you have to teach yourself a new way to balance. And while you won’t necessarily be able to prevent falling, you can soften the blow. Stay safe on your hoverboard by wearing the right protective gear, including a helmet, wrist guards and knee and elbow pads. And you’ll want to steer clear of busy streets by riding the board in large, open areas, Feldman adds.

Unfortunately, falls aren’t the only thing experts are worried about. Fire marshals across the country have warned against hoverboards, saying the toys could suddenly catch fire and/or explode. The threat of fire has also prompted some online retailers to remove the toy from their sites, and officials have prohibited hoverboards from airplanes and some city sidewalks. The United States Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) stresses that there are no safety standards yet for hoverboards. While the CPSC is still investigating the risk of hoverboard fires, these tips may help lessen the chance of an accident:

  • Charge a hoverboard only when you’re able to keep an eye on it.
  • Avoid charging the toy immediately after using it. “Let the device cool for an hour or so,” advises CPSC.
  • Keep and charge the hoverboard in an open, dry area, away from anything flammable. 

See More from Dr. Feldman

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