What was that? The sound of Christmas 2015?
We definitely saw this coming. Every list of top gifts ranked the two-wheeled scooter, or the “hoverboard,” as the one of the most coveted items in Santa’s bag. Never mind the slew of stories about hoverboards catching on fire or the investigation by the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission — this is the closest we’ve been to soaring like Marty McFly! Justin Bieber and Kendall Jenner are riding them around! Get us our hoverboards!
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Hoverboards, you see, are not that easy to ride. So when little kids and their just-as-excited dads hopped on their new wheels to ride around the mess of wrapping paper on the floor or take a spin in the unusually balmy outdoors, it didn’t always end so well.
Christmas Day social media was filled with flailing arms and face-plants, stitches and concussions, broken arms and probably a few broken tailbones.
The hashtag #hoverboardfail has collected more than 900 posts on Instagram. One is a repost from former Washington Nationals player Dan Uggla, who proved that being a professional athlete does not make you immune to the difficulty of the hoverboard. Neither does being a politician, as demonstrated by Florida congressman Carlos Curbelo:
“Confirmed — #hoverboard is for kids. My daughter got it. I ended up in @BaptistHealthSF #ER.”
Christina Johns, the attending physician in the emergency room at Children’s National hospital in the District of Columbia, said she luckily hasn’t seen any hoverboard-related injuries in the past few days. She’s hoping it stays that way — especially in her own home.
“As a parent I considered that fairly heavily when I suggested to Santa that Santa bring hoverboards for Christmas,” Johns said.
Santa did come through for her 7- and 10-year-olds, and so far, they’ve mastered the boards fairly quickly. Johns said she thinks balancing is a little easier for kids because they have a lower center of gravity. But just in case, she makes hers wear helmets any time they hop on the board.
“I would suggest to anybody considering buying them to also get elbow, knee and wrist pads, all the protective equipment we used to haul out for rollerblading and skateboarding,” Johns said.
It’s not yet clear how to stop your hoverboard from catching on fire, though. One in Maryland lit up while it was plugged into a wall. Amazon and other retailers have stopped selling brands that were taking hazardous shortcuts in production, but nearly all brands use lithium ion batteries, which have incinerated electric cars and iPods in the past.
The only answer to fires and crashes seems only to be constant vigilance: Wear a helmet, make sure a friend is around and keep an eye on your board while it’s charging. We would recommend switching to the other “hottest gift of the season,” personal drones, but it appears that only ends the same way:
Zoooooooooooom, crash, happy holidays.