As an entertaining teaser—and to indulge your (hopefully) inner pyromaniac—watch this fun video compilation of what happens when you breach the structural integrity (i.e. smash, poke, otherwise physically taunt) Lithium Ion batteries:
Now picture that not only do some trendy self-balancing scooter makers incorporate Lithium Ion batteries, but—to drive down the price of the people movers—they're including cheaply made ones with physical defects. The scooter crashes or is overcharged, and kaboom. According to a report from Wired, that may be at the root of why airlines are forbidding "hoverboards" and why Amazon is doing its best to weed out potentially unreliable personal electric vehicles.
As a sidenote, now you know why airlines and the post office ask you so persistently about the presence of Lithium Ion batteries.
This doesn't mean all hands-free scooters are a hazard, at least in the incendiary sense. Unfortunately though, it's difficult to predict if/when they might go up. In fact, most are safe products (again, to the degree to which the rider has his shit together). But in the meantime, if you happen to acquire a cheap version of this fancy gyroscopic technology this holiday season, be sure to keep an extinguisher nearby, especially when charging the thing.
Photos by Christopher Furlong / Getty Images News