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The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) has published a new study warning about the safety risks associated with hoverboards. Though the toys have been in the news frequently because of battery-related fires, this new study highlights the very real risks associated with simply using them, noting that they are frequently the cause of injuries in children under the age of 18.

Thousands of Kids Injured on Hoverboards & Skateboards

For the study, researchers examined data regarding hoverboard and skateboard injuries in kids obtained from the National Electronic Injury Surveillance System for the years 2015-2016. Data included demographics, what body areas were injured, and whether or not the kids ended up in the emergency room.

Results showed that in total, there were 26,854 hoverboard and 121,398 skateboard injuries treated in U.S. emergency rooms during the time of the study. Most kids were in the 11-13 year-old range, with boys more commonly injured than girls. The majority of the hoverboard injuries occurred at home, whereas the skateboard injuries most often occurred on the street.

The wrists were the most common body part injured, with fractures the most common diagnosis. About three percent of the patients were admitted to the hospital with their injuries. In addition, 14 percent of all admissions for hoverboard injuries and 35 percent of all admissions from skateboard injuries were due to head injuries.

The scientists noted that it was unclear whether the patients were wearing protective gear at the time of the injuries, but added that a case series of five hoverboard injuries “revealed that none of the patients in the study were wearing protective gear.” Helmets and wrist pads have been shown in the past to help decrease the frequency of wrist and head injuries.

How to Avoid Hoverboard Injuries

The AAP suggests the following steps to help kids avoid injuries when using these toys:

  1. Wear a helmet: Look for those labeled “CPSC Standard 10” or “N-94.” Also, helmets with “bicycle” on the label have passed federal safety tests.
  2. Wear wrist guards: These help protect from fractures, strains, and scrapes.
  3. Wear elbow and knee pads: These help absorb the shock of a fall and may prevent strains and fractures.
  4. Supervise: The AAP advises parents to provide supervision for kids playing with these toys, particularly younger ones who may be more likely to get hurt when trying to do what the older kids do.
  5. Double-check the laws: Some cities don’t allow hoverboards on public streets, sidewalks, and paths. There may also be age limits for using these toys in your area.
  6. Prevent fires: A number of hoverboards have been recalled from the market because of lithium-ion batteries that could catch fire. Parents can check http://www.cpsc.gov/ to find out if their hoverboard is one of them. Even if your hoverboard has not been recalled, it’s important to be aware of potential battery issues. Don’t leave the toys plugged in and charging overnight, or when no one is home. Make sure you have working smoke alarms on every level of your home and report any incidents involving hoverboard overheating, smoking, or causing fires to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) at http://www.saferproducts.gov/.

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