Fidget Spinners Catch Fire in Alabama, Michigan

Two local outlets in different states reported that a fidget spinner caught fire while charging.

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Image via WXYZ-TV Detroit

As fidget spinner toys grew in popularity in 2017, a barrage of rumors spread about the dangers of these gadgets. Although some reports were false or exaggerated (fidget spinners won’t alter the center of earth’s gravity, a man didn’t slice off his penis with one, and they don’t all contain dangerous amounts of lead), others were issued by legitimate safety watchdogs or involved real injuries

For instance in May and June 2017, a family in Alabama and one in Michigan reported that their fidget spinners had caught fire while they were charging:

A family in Gardendale says their fidget spinner burst into flames after being put on the charger.

A few days ago, Kimberly Allums heard her son screaming upstairs. He just plugged in his Bluetooth fidget spinner. You can play music through built-in speakers in some of the spinners.

“He noticed that it burst into flames and he just started screaming.  I was downstairs and all I heard was ‘fire..fire and the fidget spinner had literally, It was smoking, It was in flames,” Allums said.


We have no reason to doubt these reports. But that doesn’t mean that all fidget spinners are at risk of bursting into flames. 

The two fidget spinners that caught fire in Alabama and Michigan featured Bluetooth speakers and (apparently) faulty batteries. Most fidget spinners, however, don’t require batteries to operate. In their statement to Gizmodo, the Consumer Product Safety Commission was more concerned with the proper use of batteries than fidget spinners in general:

Never charge a product with batteries overnight while you are sleeping. Always follow the manufacturer’s instructions and use the charger from the manufacturer that is designed specifically for your device.

Fidget spinners are manufactured by a wide range of companies and are sold from distributors all over the world. That makes it easier for people to buy a fidget spinner that may not meet U.S. safety standards. The Toy Association, a not-for-profit trade association that represents toy businesses, urged parents to purchase fidget spinners from reputable retailers: 

Shop at a reputable retailer that you know and trust. Those retailers will be selling products that have been tested and comply with strict U.S. safety standards. When a craze like the fidget spinners hits, you may be tempted to buy one for your child wherever you can find one (like at a pop-up vendor on the street or from an unknown online seller), but the safety of products sold outside a reputable retailer cannot be guaranteed.

The Massachusetts-based nonprofit World Against Toys Causing Harm (WATCH) also warned against the dangers of fidget spinners — but as a choking hazard, rather than a fire hazard:

Topping this year’s list are popular toys and other children’s products, such as fidget spinners and hoverboards that, while exciting and intriguing to children, have the potential to lead to tragic or deadly consequencesAlthough fads can generate a sense of excitement and urgency when buying toys for children, W.A.T.C.H. cautions parents to complete their own due diligence to make more informed decisions when purchasing toys. “Do not be lulled into a false sense of security that a toy is safe simply because it is popular,” said Siff. There is no guarantee of safety simply because a toy is in high demand, promotes a superhero from a blockbuster movie, or is made by a well-known manufacturer. 

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Sources

Hungo, Hudson.   “We Regret to Inform You That Fidget Spinners Are Now Exploding.”
    Gizmodo.   29 June 2017.

Gauntt, Joshua.   “Family Warns of Fire Hazard After Fidget Spinner Burst Into Flames.”
    WBRC.   27 June 2017.

Chodnicki, Amanda.   “Local Woman Warns Others About Popular Toy.”
    NBC 25 News.   30 May 2017.