Northwestern Environmental Health and Safety

Safety Alert

December 2023

Electric Heaters


On December 14, 2023, flammable materials fell into a wall-mounted electric heater in a cleaning closet and caught fire, igniting other items in the room. Fortunately, there were no injuries, and the fire was contained to the room.

Safety tips

Always follow safe work practices and exercise caution around heaters to avoid injuries and the risk of fire:

  • Never store items that can burn (e.g., paper towels, rags, cardboard, chemicals) on top of, above, or within three feet of heaters
  • Avoid touching heater surfaces, as they can cause burn injuries 
  • Never work with chemicals or fuels that produce flammable vapors near heaters
  • Report any missing protective covers and damaged/malfunctioning equipment to supervisors
  • Portable space heaters are prohibited on campus except in emergencies on a temporary basis
  • If you see smoke or fire, activate the nearest fire alarm or call 911 and evacuate the area

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