Fayette County

UK bans hoverboards on and around campus

A hoverboard is a two-wheeled, self-balancing motorized scooter. Costs vary from hundreds to thousands of dollars.
A hoverboard is a two-wheeled, self-balancing motorized scooter. Costs vary from hundreds to thousands of dollars. iStockphoto

The use, possession and storage of hoverboards have been banned on and around the University of Kentucky campus.

The ban comes after the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission issued a warning as a result of reports of batteries in hoverboards bursting into flames.

Hoverboards are dangerous largely because they are unregulated, said UK Fire Marshal Greg Williamson.

“We have lithium batteries in these things and very small motors,” he said. “Charging can overload them, riding them can too ... it’s very evident that they are a huge fire risk.”

The ban includes residence halls, Greek houses, university apartments and academic buildings, and all other campus buildings and grounds, according to a news release from UK.

Off-campus properties controlled by the university are included in the ban.

Temporary storage in a secure, separate location will be provided for students who have hoverboards on campus and have no where to keep them away from campus, Williamson said. Students who need temporary storage may call the UK fire marshal’s office at 859-257-6326.

There have been no reports of hoverboard-related fires on campus, but the fire marshal’s office is trying to be proactive instead of reactive, Williamson said.

On a campus, the dangers can be more of a problem than in a home, he said.

“If you do something like that in a dorm situation, you are not just affecting you,” Williamson said. “You’re affecting everyone around you, possibly an entire dorm.”

The Consumer Product Safety Commission is investigating why boards catch fire during the charging phase and while in use; engineers are testing and collecting data and damaged boards from users, according to a statement issued by chairman Elliot F. Kaye. Kaye also warned in December of injuries caused by falls from hoverboards.

“Every consumer who is riding a hoverboard, who purchased one to give as a gift during the holidays or who is thinking about buying one deserves to know if there is a safety defect,” Kaye said in his statement.

Other universities around the country have banned hoverboards and similar devices.

Louisiana State University sent a message to on-campus residents Dec. 30 banning the devices.

“We are not willing to risk your safety and your community’s safety,” LSU officials wrote in the message.

The University of Arkansas recently updated its student handbook to add hoverboards to the list of prohibited items, according to the university’s website.