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September 2018

Are 2-Wheeled Boards Too Dangerous for Kids?

When hoverboards hit the scene in 2015, they were an immediate success. Also known as self-balancing or two-wheeled boards, these toys can be a fun way to get around—but are they safe for kids?

Teen with arm in cast

Shortly after they debuted, several manufacturers started selling hoverboards that were never inspected for quality or safety. News reports started to surface of the motorized boards spontaneously catching on fire, causing burns. To date, more than 300 incidents of these devices overheating or catching fire have been reported to the Consumer Product Safety Commission.

New hoverboards don’t carry the same fire risk that some used to. If you have an older model, check the CPSC website to see if there’s been a recall. All hoverboards should be compliant with the UL 2272 safety standard.

But even if your child has one of the newest models, that doesn’t automatically mean it is safe. After all, they can be difficult to balance on—and falling isn’t uncommon.

A look at statistics

How often do these falls result in serious injury? A recent study from the American Academy of Pediatrics found that about 26,854 children visited an emergency department with a hoverboard injury during 2015 and 2016. The average age of an injured child was 11. Boys were slightly more likely to have injuries than girls (52% of the children seen were boys).

Kids were most likely to injure their wrists, forearms, and heads. The most common injuries were:

  • Fractures (40%)

  • Bruises (17%)

  • Strains and sprains (13%)

Hoverboards may be one of the newest toys, but many other wheeled toys result in trips to the emergency department. During the same 2015 to 2016 time period, skateboards caused almost 121,400 injuries.

Practicing safety

How can you keep your kids safe when using any kind of wheeled toy? Here are some tips:

  • Require them to wear protective gear such as a helmet and wrist guards.

  • Don’t allow them to ride near traffic.

  • If appropriate for the activity, enroll them in lessons. Learning how to fall properly while skateboarding, for instance, can make a big difference in how serious an injury is.

  • Read all the manufacturer directions, including any age or weight restrictions.

  • Stop using any motorized toy that overheats. Use only the charging cord that came with the product.

  • Make sure the wheeled device your child uses is free of debris and not worn out. If your child falls, always see a healthcare provider if there’s a possibility they have a concussion. Wrists and ankles can be treated with rest, ice, compression, and elevation (RICE). If there’s severe pain or the injury doesn’t improve, see a doctor. 

Online Medical Reviewer: Lazebnik, Rina, MD
Date Last Reviewed: 6/7/2018
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