College bans hoverboards on campus and properties

by Alexa Green | 2/16/16 7:11pm

In an email to campus last Thursday morning, director of Safety and Security Harry Kinne announced the ban of self-balancing scooters — commonly known as hoverboards. The ban prohibits their use, possession or storage on campus and other Dartmouth owned properties.

Residential operations will coordinate the removal of the hoverboards, as many major airlines have banned hoverboards on traditional flights due to fire concerns over the lithium batteries.

“The concern is that the batteries of hoverboards are known to explode and cause fires and so, we don’t want to have any of these in residence halls or any other campus building simply because of that concern,” director of residential operations Catherine Henault said.

Henault said that she has reached out to vendors in Hanover to see if they can coordinate shipping batteries to student’s homes or other suitable places away from campus. She said that the College ruled out storing batteries and hoverboards on campus, as that would still qualify as a “College facility.”

Hoverboard owner Michael Stones ’19, a point guard on the Big Green’s men’s basketball team, said that the device has made getting around campus very convenient. He added that the ban is going to influence the time it takes him to get to class.

“It made walking easier because I didn’t have to walk anymore,” Stones said. “It’s always nice to save the legs when you can after practice.”

Kinne said that on campus, very few students rely on hoverboards for transportation and leisure activities.As one of that small number, Stone said that his hoverboard has become somewhat noteworthy on campus.“Also because I always use it, people expect me to have it,” Stones said. “This will definitely stop that.”

The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission is investigating 28 fires in 19 states caused by the hoverboards as well as the companies that are producing them. Hoverboard360 and a variety of other companies’ products are being investigated for safety concerns. There have been at least 70 ER injuries related to hoverboards, the commission found.

A representative for Hoverboard360, who did not wish to be identified because they were not authorized to speak to the media, said that the company had not received any complaints about their products. The representative added that the company’s products are CE and UL certified, and that the batteries used are made externally by Samsung LG.

Products sold or made in the European Economic Area are required to have the CE conformity marking, indicating the manufacturer has met production requirements. UL certification indicates approval from UL, LLC, a safety consulting and certification company.

Smart Balance Wheel did not respond to requests for comment on the consumer safety issue and collegiate bans.

Kinne reiterated that the problem with hoverboards was more due to the batteries than the product itself.

“The Consumer Product Safety Commission has put out notices about how dangerous [hoverboards] are as far as starting fires,” Kinne said. “It is not the hoverboards themselves that is actually at fault. It is the inexpensive batteries that are used in these devices that tend to catch fire when then they are charging, at rest, or in use.”

The hoverboards present a danger to students and can cause substantial damage to College property, Kinne said. Campuses are taking this step as a precaution because there have been so many instances where hoverboards have spontaneously burst into flames, he said. Kinne added that there have been no instances on Dartmouth’s campus of injury due to hoverboard use.

“Similar items, like skateboards, where people can actually injure themselves are allowed,” Kinne said. “We take that risk because we are not as concerned about that as we are where fire is likely.”

Dartmouth is not the first to temporarily ban hoverboards due to safety concerns. Over 30 schools have either partial or full bans on the use, storage and ownership of hoverboards on campus.