A hoverboard, or a hands-free scooter, is probably like nothing you’ve ever used before. To those with experience, the way it moves seems intuitive and expected, and you’ll get to that point eventually. If you’re new to it, though, it can feel foreign and accidents are more common. This is similar to learning how to ride a skateboard or even a bike—you’re starting something completely new and you need to learn how to do it safely and proficiently. Much like a bike, you’ll eventually feel comfortable and at home on your hoverboard, able to ride without thinking about it much at all, but starting with the fundamentals is the key to getting to that point.
With this in mind, here are a few safety tips that you want to use when you start riding:
Calibrate the Board
Don’t get your new hoverboard and hop on without taking the time to calibrate it. If the wheel shakes at all as it rotates, the calibration is off. Don’t assume it’s going to be correct out of the box. Pick it up, spin the wheel, and look for that shake. If the wheel glides properly and doesn’t appear loose, the calibration is fine. This is a simple check that can http://abcnews.go.com/US/hoverboard-safety-expert-tips-glide-injury/story?id=35975597save you from a lot of accidents.
Clean It First
It can also be a good idea to clean the hoverboard before you use it. You don’t know where it was or how it was stored before it came to you. It’s probably in good condition, but it doesn’t hurt to go over it, looking for signs of dirt and grime that could gum up the works. There is a reason that most gun owners clean even brand new firearms before shooting them; the same idea applies here. Obviously, this is doubly important if you bought a used board.
Charge the Battery
It’s best for the battery if you charge it before you use it, making sure it has a full charge before getting on. This ensures that the hoverboard is going to work properly.
Wear a Helmet
This almost seems too obvious to mention, but, if you take a second to look up videos of people testing their scooters out, you’ll see how often people use them without helmets. Skateboards and bikes were mentioned above, and there’s a reason for it. They’re similar devices that require similar safety protocols. The helmet isn’t going to prevent an accident, but it can help keep you injury-free if you do crash. Head injuries are nothing to take lightly, and even falling from a device that is only a few inches high can be dangerous. A helmet reduces the chances of serious injury significantly.
Consider Wrist Pads, Knee Pads and the Like
Some experts recommend going beyond a helmet and using both wrist and knee pads as well. These can help you break your fall on a rough surface, like pavement. While it’s true that most injuries from these crashes are to the head or the back, part of this could be because people are skittish about breaking their fall with their hands and knees, not wanting to scrape them up. If you know you’re protected, you can break your fall with confidence and avoid any head contact with the ground.
Learn How to Use It First
There seems to be this idea that you should jump on the board and learn as you go. That’s not always wise. Take some time to read about the boards first, learning how to get on, ride, and how to get off. Consider tips from people who have been using them for months. Learn as much as you possibly can before getting on so that you’re stepping onto the board with a good knowledge base. You still have to put that into practice, but knowing how to use the board before getting on it can help you pick it up quickly and avoid numerous crashes. Learning by trial and error means you’ll crash more often since you’ll be making simple, avoidable mistakes.
Stick to Safe Areas
When you start, don’t go anywhere too dangerous or difficult to navigate. There’s something to be said for learning in your driveway or your garage, in a controlled environment. You may be eager to show it off, but charging off down the sidewalk or the street is asking to crash. Start in a place where there are fewer obstacles until you master it. If you have a long hallway in your home, it can be the perfect place to learn since you can catch yourself on the wall. Once you’ve got it down, feel free to start venturing out more.
Avoid High-Traffic Areas
Naturally, you want to avoid riding in traffic. While some people do this with ease—like Carolina Panthers QB Cam Newton, who was spotted riding through stopped cars after a football game—it’s not very smart. You want to avoid areas with a lot of vehicles, and you also want to avoid bike and foot traffic as much as possible. Remember, even if you ride perfectly, mistakes made by others can lead to an unavoidable accident. Don’t put yourself in that position.
Don’t Look Down
“Don’t look down” is classic advice when you’re at a significant height, and it works for a hoverboard, as well. You’re going to be tempted to stare down at it while you ride to make sure you do it right. This throws your balance off and causes you to crash. Rather than looking down, look forward at all times. Concentrate on standing up straight while you do it.
Don’t Step Forward to Get Off
Some have said the No. 1 reason people crash is because they step forward when they’re done riding and they want to get off. This sends the hoverboard sliding away and they go crashing to the ground. It is designed so that you should step back to get off safely. Even if this doesn’t feel as natural, it’s what you want to do.