Hoverboards raise safety concerns across campus

Published by adviser, Author: Chris Gordon - Assistant News Editor, Date: January 28, 2016
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Slippery Rock students have been asked to refrain from gliding to class as the university reviews a safety policy regarding the use of newly popular hoverboards on campus.

“While these discussions continue and in the interest of safety, which is always a top priority, we are asking that staff, faculty and students refrain from either bringing a hoverboard to campus or using a hoverboard on campus,” Robb King, the associate executive director of communication and public affairs at SRU, said.

On January 12, students received an email from SRU President Cheryl Norton issuing the advisory.

“The university cabinet is currently reviewing a policy dealing with the use and storage of hoverboards on campus,” the email read.

Norton emphasized the importance of safety, as hoverboards have been known to catch fire, and asked students to refrain from bringing them to campus.

The University of Pittsburgh has also moved to ban the motorized balance boards, asking students via email to refrain from “riding, charging or plugging in a hoverboard in a university-owned housing facility.”

NPR reported that hoverboards are prone to catching fire due to a flammable electrolyte in their lithium-ion batteries.  Many common devices, such as laptops and cellphones, also use these batteries, but those in hoverboards must be much stronger in order to move people around, NPR reported.

Farrell Patterson, a senior social work major at SRU, said hoverboards are not safe.

“My sister got one for Christmas,” she said.  “There’s a hole in the wall from my dad’s foot and another from where the hoverboard flew out from under him.”

As for the fire concern, Patterson said the battery of her sister’s board had melted.

The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission is currently investigating 40 fires attributed to hoverboard use, Consumer Reports stated on January 27.

The office of university public relations was unable to provide details of the new hoverboard policy.

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