Testing hoverboards for safety in the Chicago suburbs

NORTHBROOK, Ill. (WLS) -- Testing is underway in the Chicago area to determine the safety of hoverboards following dozens of reports that the self-balancing scooters burst into flames.

Hoverboards are one of the most popular toys on the market and they have gained national attention for exploding and catching fire, especially while charging. Just in the last week, a family in Orland Park escaped tragedy when a hoverboard exploded in their living room and set household items on fire.

"We know that this is pretty much focused on batteries inside, the lithium ion batteries," says John Drengenberg, Consumer Safety Director of Underwrites Laboratories. "They are the same batteries you have in your cell phone and in your laptop, but there are more of them in the hoverboard."

Underwriters Laboratories invited ABC7 Eyewitness News into their Northbrook facility today to show how they are now setting a standard for manufacturers and retailers. They're testing devices for mechanical and electrical stability.

"Let's make sure that the safety keeps up with the technology and that when a product is released on the market place it is technology innovative but it's also safe," says Barb Guthrie, VP and Chief Public Safety Officer for Underwriters Laboratories

UL will test hoverboards made by companies that want to participate and they plan to issue special holograms consumers can look for on the products to ensure they've been certified. They're also warning people about counterfeit hoverboards. A good way to spot ones that are fake is to look for misspellings on labels and manuals, wiring that doesn't seem secure and know that anything that seems too good to be true for the price probably is.

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