State warns of hoverboard dangers


By Satta Kendor

In agreement with NIU’s ban, the Office of the State Fire Marshal is warning Illinois residents of the dangers of hoverboards because they have been known to “burst into flames,” according to a Wednesday news release.

NIU banned the use and storage of hoverboards in all residential facilities at the start of the semester. Any student seen with a hoverboard in any residential facility will simply be asked to remove it, and if they are not compliant they will go through the student misconduct process, said Dino Martinez, associate director for Student Recruitment Initiatives and Assessment in Housing and Dining.

Any student who violates the Student Code of Conduct may have one or more sanctions imposed on them including residence hall suspension or expulsion, community service, counseling, fines and restitution.

Hoverboards are two-wheeled, hands-free motorized scooters. They were one of the most popular gifts of the holiday season, but have come under recent scrutiny due to a number of incidents in which they have caught fire while charging or while in use, according to the news release.

Belal Sulieman, freshman electrical engineering major and owner of a hoverboard, said he understands the precautions NIU has taken in regard to hoverboards.

“I’m with the whole thing,” Sulieman said. “Honestly, it’s not really a good idea to have them just strolling around campus. You never know who could get hurt, get hit. I also own a long board and I can tell you it’s dangerous on a long board, imagine being on a thing that runs on electricity. You never know what could happen.”

The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission is investigating more than 40 reported hoverboard fires that have occurred across 19 states, including Illinois, according to the news release.

“For me it’s just a byproduct of having so much power packed into such a small power pack, but [the ban is] definitely justified,” said Clint Summerfelt, junior mechanical engineering major.

Elliot F. Kaye, chairman of the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission, released a statement on Jan. 20 that said consumers who bought a hoverboard off of Amazon could return the product for a full refund because there are no safety standards for the product. Investigators and engineers at the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission are working to find the cause of the fires and are focusing on the lithium-ion battery packs and their interaction with circuit boards inside the units, Kaye said in the statement.

Kaye said he wanted to commend colleges and universities who have been active in prohibiting the use of hoverboards on campus.

“I think for us prohibiting the hoverboards had everything to do with the safety of the residents that live in the building… I guess I would probably be even more surprised if there were campuses that allowed students to have them in the halls,” Martinez said.