UK bans hoverboards on campus

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By Will Wright

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Students who received hover boards during the holidays will need to leave them at home, as UK has issued a temporary ban on the self-balancing, handle-less scooters.

All students, faculty and staff must comply with the rule, which prohibits using or storing hoverboards on all university-operated properties, including Greek houses, classroom buildings and campus.

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Hoverboards have hit the spotlight recently amid stories and videos of the electric skateboards bursting into flames.

The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission is investigating at least 28 hoverboard fires in 19 states, and warned consumers about the dangers of the popular holiday gift.

Patty Davis, a spokeswoman for the commission, said while there are safety standards for the individual parts of hoverboards, including the batteries and motors, there are no safety standards for hoverboards as a whole.

“We believe the industry needs to come to the table and get a standard in place for hoverboards,” Davis said.

The commission has received reports of multiple hospital room visits from hoverboard accidents, but most of those injuries are from people falling rather than the boards catching fire.

There are no ongoing hoverboard investigations in Kentucky, and UK Fire Marshal Greg Williamson said there have been no reports of hoverboard fires on campus.

“Nobody has regulated these things to keep them safe. You have lithium ion batteries, then you have a very small motor that is pulling a lot of load. The batteries … will cause a fire,” Williamson said. “There is a potential for them to be made safely at some point in time.”

Overcharging can also increase the risk of a fire, Williamson said. There have been reports of the boards catching fire while charging and also while people were riding them.

UK is not the first institution to ban the boards. The U.S. Postal Service, New York City, the United Kingdom, Disney theme parks and universities including the University of Alabama and the University of South Carolina all prohibit using the scooters.

Students who already have a hoverboard on campus are not completely out of luck. People who cannot ship their board home or have nowhere off campus to store it can give the hoverboard to the UK Fire Marshal’s department, which will keep the board until the student is able to move it off campus.

Students caught with boards will be reported to the Dean of Student’s office.

People who have been injured while on a hoverboard or have had a hoverboard catch fire can report the incident to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission.