Holiday "Hoverboard" Craze Underscores Risks of Lithium Batteries

Posted on 12/4/2015 by Roger Marks

Update 12/28/15: Citing a large number of incorrectly prepared shipments of "hoverboards" or "balance boards" containing lithium batteries, the US Department of Transportation released a transportation Safety Alert for these products on December 24 that guides shippers on the Hazardous Materials Regulations (HMR) for shipping lithium batteries by ground, air, vessel, or rail. 

Update 12/09/15: The International Air Transport Association (IATA) has issued a guidance document to help airlines understand the requirements for lithium-battery powered "small vehicles" in carry-on or checked luggage. View the IATA guidance document here. 
Consumers wishing to take their balance gliders, or “hoverboards,” aboard an aircraft are experiencing issues flying this holiday season. Hoverboards are scooters that can be operated hands-free, and they are one of many consumer products powered by lithium batteries.

Hoverboards may be new, but the hazards posed by lithium batteries are not. A big share of consumer electronics are now powered by lithium batteries—from cell phones, tablets, and laptops to personal conveyances like lithium battery–powered bikes, scooters, surf boards, and even cars. The surge in popularity has led to more lithium batteries being shipped by ground and air in the US.

Airlines Acting to Prevent In-flight Hazards

Major airlines like United, American, JetBlue, Delta, Virgin, and Southwest, have different rules concerning lithium battery–powered hoverboards. Some airlines are allowing them as checked luggage, while others require the battery to be removed first. Some allow hoverboards as a carry-on only, while others ban them outright.   

Click here to read about how lithium batteries become a transport and workplace hazard.

lithium battery powered hoverboard

Lithium batteries that are defective or not packaged correctly may short-circuit in transit, leading to a condition known as “thermal runaway.” In thermal runaway, heat in the battery feeds the current, which accelerates the chemical reaction rate in the battery. This produces more heat, starting the “cycle” over, and ultimately leading to fire, venting of hazardous gases, harmful smoke, and even explosions.

Recent Changes to Domestic and International Lithium Battery Rules

Under current US DOT lithium battery regulations, spare lithium ion and lithium metal batteries cannot be packed in checked luggage. Manufacturers and shippers must follow strict hazmat regulations that limit the number and size of lithium batteries that can be shipped by passenger or cargo plane.

New hazmat rules for lithium batteries took effect this year in August and include three major components: new definitions added to the Hazardous Materials Regulations, incorporation of new shipping names for lithium batteries, and a dramatic cut to the exceptions for “small” lithium batteries. Read more about 2015 lithium battery rules here.

Be Ready to Ship Lithium Batteries

If you or if business plans to ship the new hoverboards or anything else powered by a lithium battery this holiday season, it’s crucial that you know the latest rules. Having your shipment rejected or delayed is costly, especially this time of year. Be confident your lithium battery shipments are in full compliance, whether you ship batteries in your products, with your products, or by themselves.  

The Shipping Lithium Batteries Online Course covers the latest rules for classifying, packaging, marking, labeling, and loading lithium batteries for transport by ground (49 CFR), air (IATA DGR), and vessel (IMDG Code). Don’t wait to learn the latest rules; sign up now! 

Tags: DOT, hazmat shipping, lithium batteries

Find a Post

Compliance Archives

Lion - Quotes

Excellent class, super instructor, very easy to follow. No rushing through material. Would like to take his class again.

Lawrence Patterson

EH&S Facility Maintenance & Security Manager

The instructor was very engaging and helped less experienced people understand the concepts.

Steve Gall

Safety Leader

Lion's course was superior to others I have taken in the past. Very clear in the presentation and the examples helped to explain the content presented.

George Bersik

Hazardous Waste Professional

I attended training from another provider and learned absolutely nothing. Lion is much better. Hands down.

Nicole Eby

Environmental Specialist

Lion courses always set the bar for content, reference, and practical application. Membership and access to the experts is an added bonus.

John Brown, CSP

Director of Safety & Env Affairs

The instructor was probably the best I ever had! He made the class enjoyable, was humorous at times, and very knowledgeable.

Mary Sue Michon

Environmental Administrator

I can take what I learned in this workshop and apply it to everyday work and relate it to my activities.

Shane Hersh

Materials Handler

Lion Technology workshops are amazing!! You always learn so much, and the instructors are fantastic.

Dorothy Rurak

Environmental Specialist

I love that the instructor emphasized the thought process behind the regs.

Rebecca Saxena

Corporate Product Stewardship Specialist

Lion is my preferred trainer for hazmat and DOT.

Jim Jani

Environmental Coordinator

Download Our Latest Whitepaper

What to do before, during, and after a RCRA hazardous waste inspection to defend your site from rising State and Federal penalties.

Latest Whitepaper

By submitting your phone number, you agree to receive recurring marketing and training text messages. Consent to receive text messages is not required for any purchases. Text STOP at any time to cancel. Message and data rates may apply. View our Terms & Conditions and Privacy Policy.