Teen creates app to prevent heat deaths on farms

With even the warmest parts of the northern hemisphere currently preparing for the chilly winter season, summer heat is not at the forefront of many minds. However, one teenaged student has been hard at work devising a way to keep people safe on farms when summer’s at its peak.

Faith Florez, a 17-year-old high school senior from California, has designed an app to connect farmers, contractors and farm workers to instant health data and critical heat alerts.

Florez’s home state is the nation’s leader in heat-related deaths among farm workers. After 12 workers died of heat stress in 2005, the state passed the nation’s first heat stress regulations, requiring workers be provided with shade, adequate water and heat sickness training in their native language.

As the granddaughter of farm workers, Florez sought to take action against the problem. She came up with a proposal for an Apple Watch app called Calor (the Spanish word for “heat”) to give workers timely alerts to protect them from extreme heat conditions.

“I want to prove that technology to protect farm workers in times of excessive heat can be applied as easily as the Amber Alert notifications we already receive, with life-saving data sent straight to their wrists as they toil to put food on our tables,” she said.

Florez’s project was selected for development in 2016 by graduate coding students at the University of Southern California’s Viterbi School of Engineering. To help the idea reach fruition, some California farmers and contractors have agreed to supply their workers with Apple Watches in order to use the app in the summer of 2018. Additional fundraising is also being carried out to support the project by covering costs and boosting its reach.

“My mission,” said Florez, “is to change the statement ‘work or health’ to ‘work and health.’”

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