The U updated its policy concerning hoverboards last month, banning the motorized two-wheel boards from the dorms.
Citing concerns over “several instances of fire and injury,” Housing and Residential Education (HRE) now prohibits the “use, possession or storage of hoverboards, Swagways, IO Hawks, Skywalkers and similar devices” in all university-owned living spaces.
Rachel Aho, assistant director for HRE, said no fire-related incidents have occurred at the U, but the increasing reports nationwide compelled the university to act preemptively.
The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission announced Dec. 16 that hoverboards were involved in 28 fires across 19 states, causing several corporations, including Amazon.com and Walmart, to stop selling them. The boards can catch fire while running, charging and even when unpowered and idle, likely due to overheating in the lithium battery that powers the device.
According to USA TODAY, more than 30 colleges across the nation have some sort of ban concerning hoverboards — either prohibiting them outright or restricting their use in certain areas. The U’s prohibition will continue, according to an email sent to students living on campus, until “safety standards for [hoverboards] can be developed and implemented.”
In response to the hoverboard fires, researchers at Stanford University have developed a method to prevent similar lithium battery fires. Their technology disconnects internal battery power when a certain temperature is reached. The fix has not yet been incorporated in hoverboard production.
Aho said if a student is caught with a hoverboard in the U’s dorms, the repercussions are decided on an individual basis.
“Each alleged incident is taken on a case-by-case consideration and handled according to procedure and a student’s past history,” Aho said.
Other universities and colleges in Utah have differing bans and rules concerning the motorized scooters. Weber State University added hoverboards to its ban on skateboards and rollerblades. Utah Valley University prohibits using the scooters inside buildings. Brigham Young University and Salt Lake Community College currently have no policies concerning hoverboards.
“I wanted to get a hoverboard to use around campus,” said Brady Rogers, a freshmen in biomedical engineering and a dorm resident. “But I decided against it when I heard they were exploding.”