razor hovertraxHoverboards rolled themselves into the consumer spotlight this month, just in time for kids to pencil them into the top spot on their holiday wish lists. Easily dethroning former No. 1 picks, these self-balancing scooters are single-handedly shifting the landscape of what was once a stable Christmas list. And even though these boards don’t necessarily hover, they’ve still managed to leave kids dreaming about this holiday season’s hottest item.

Like miniature segways minus the handlebars, these scooters work by using pressure-sensitive footpads that react to subtle shifts in a rider’s weight. A simple lean in any direction gets the wheels turning, and riders are propelled forward as they balance themselves atop their tiny, two-wheeled gizmos. They’re like futuristic skateboards, each fitted with their own personal battery, motors, and gyroscope. Fancy fancy.

foot pedalUnless you dwell in a home similar to that of Patrick Star, it’s hard to avoid these scooters. High-profile celebrities have sported them in public, including Chris Brown and Justin Bieber. Jamie Foxx has even rolled out onto the set of the Tonight Show with one beneath his feet. These hoverboards, (a name bestowed upon them by pop culture) have that cool, exclusive vibe that almost makes you feel like an outcast if you don’t want one. And as easy as it might be to jump on the bandwagon, there are some things consumers should know before buying their ticket for the ride.

Since their rise, hoverboards have drawn a lot of praise. But like other hot products before them, they too have had to accept some backlash amidst growing concerns. Recently, Amazon quietly wiped nearly all of them from their site after many consumers reported their boards catching fire. The question now becomes: when is a hot product too hot? The culprits here are the lithium-ion batteries. Unlike the batteries in our smartphones, the batteries used to power these hoverboards are stronger because they’re used to move us around and not to snap selfies. And in some cases, the batteries are of poor quality. That’s not the best recipe for safety.
So what should you do?

Start by doing your research. There are a handful of brands on the market, making it easy to feel overwhelmed. Treat the purchase more as an investment, and focus on quality instead of finding the cheapest deal. In this case, making a smart purchase trumps saving a few bucks.

wheelWhile educating yourself about the product and the different brands, keep an eye out for key safety features, including a UL certification. This certification ensures that parts of the product underwent tests and were approved by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration. With a UL certification, there’s a lot less risk and a lot more peace of mind. Consumers can also minimize their risk by following proper charging habits, like not overcharging the board and not leaving it charging unattended—meaning no charging it overnight while you sleep.

For those who still want a hoverboard under their tree this year, Razor might just have the one for you. Known mostly for their kick scooters and ride-ons, Razor’s Hovertrax is the smooth ride kids (and adults) have been dreaming about. Designed for kids ages 13 and up, the Razor Hovertrax is fitted with two anti-slip foot platforms, rubber wheels, and a shatter-resistant polymer frame. And with up to 115 minutes of continuous use, riders can cruise for nearly two hours before they need to give it more juice.

If you feel like a hoverboard is in your future, consider the following to ensure your safety:

1. Do your research. Avoid cheap brands and invest your money in quality.
2. Check for a UL certification and read the manufacturers’ warranty before you purchase.
3. Read consumer reviews by those who already own the product.
4. Unplug the hoverboard as soon as it’s done charging, and never leave it charging overnight.

Here’s to a happy and safe holiday season!