December 29, 2015 8:48 pm
Updated: August 5, 2016 3:32 pm

Vancouver firefighters sounding alarm over hoverboard threat

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The public information officer for Vancouver Fire and Rescue Services is urging citizens to be aware of the risks of exploding hoverboards.

“The desire for these products far exceeds the industry’s ability to catch up with them, and the safety industry’s ability to catch up with them,” says Captain Jonathan Gormick.

“There’s this huge demand for the hoverboards, and the ability to build them safely hasn’t really caught up yet.”

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Sales of self-balancing scooters, colloquially known as hoverboards, have taken off in the past few months. But they contain large lithium batteries, which in many cheaper models can be unsafe, say experts.

READ MORE: Amazon halts sales of some hoverboards due to fire risk

Earlier this month, more than 15,000 hoverboards were seized by U.K. officials due to safety concerns. According to the U.K.’s National Trading Standards board, officials found many concerns surrounding the plugs, cabling, chargers, batteries, or the cut-off switch within the boards, which sometimes fails.

“A lot of them are sourced offshore, and the safety standards are questionable, and I don’t think there is a governing body that oversees the assembly and overall safety,” says Gormick.

He advises the public to inspect the components before using them for the first time, and to never leave them charging unattended. He also says they shouldn’t be charged in a closet, or near anything remotely combustible.

Gormick adds that there have been no hoverboard-related fires in Canada to date.

“But as the popularity increases,” he cautions, “it’s inevitable that we’ll probably see some problems.”

WATCH: Randene Neill shows Global BC viewers how to ride a self-balancing skateboard

– With files from Nicole Bogart

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