Swegway 180More than 15,000 unsafe hoverboards, commonly known as self-balancing scooters or swegways, have been seized at ports and airports around the UK after Trading Standards officers said the boards were in danger of overheating, exploding or catching fire.

The London Fire Brigade said at least three house fires were caused by such devices over 10 days in October. Many have plugs without fuses, faulty cables or chargers that can burst into flames, according to Trading Standards.

Trading Standards say that 88% of the hoverboards it seized from the Suffolk port of Felixstowe, East Midlands airport and Glasgow were found to be defective.

The faulty devices are thought to have come from East Asia and China and do not conform to European safety standards. Most are not branded and have been ordered by websites or small traders to sell on to bargain-hunting shoppers. Consumers are being advised, as a minimum, to check that the three-pin plug conforms to BS 1363.

"We suspect that most of these products are being imported for onward sale domestically as Christmas approaches. We urge consumers to be on their guard when purchasing these products," said Lord Harris, the chair of National Trading Standards.

Earlier this year, LFB issued a warning to owners of the sought-after gifts after firefighters were recently called to two fires in two weeks involving personal transporters that were left on charge.

Charlie Pugsley, Head of Fire Investigation at the Brigade, said: "The cause of both fires is still under investigation whilst the devices are tested at our lab, but as both incidents involved personal transporters that were charging at the time of the fire, we’d urge people to especially keep an eye on their devices while they are on charge."

Trading Standards is has given the following tips to consumers who are thinking of buying a hoverboard or who may already have done so:
- Never leave the device charging unattended, especially overnight. A faulty cut-off switch means it could overheat.
- Check the plug. Many faulty devices have a "clover-shaped" plug.
- If buying online, be careful to check the website is genuine and has a contactable phone number and address.
- Don't be dazzled by prices which seem too low.