As temperatures soar, the number of individuals who have been hospitalized or passed away due to heatstroke has increased this summer.
For one city in Ibaraki Prefecture, to lower the risk of heatstroke and to limit the scope of COVID-19 infections in schools, 14 elementary and middle schools have decided to install vending machines that will dispense cool water to students at no cost.
Each participating school in Tsukubamirai city will be given one to three vending machine units depending on their student population, and with the simple press of a button, students can receive one free cold bottle of water to bring home.
The vending machines will also act as a way to deter the spread of COVID-19 among schoolchildren. In Japan, it’s common for students to fill up their bottles at water basins with multiple faucets. However, these basins are a host to a number of germs as the water knobs are high contact areas, and whether or not soap is available is dependent on a school’s resources.
With the vending machines, it will be easier to distribute water to students in need, and may make disinfection a more streamlined process.
Reactions from Japanese netizens for the project have been overwhelmingly positive. Many users applauded the vending machine additions and some mulled over their past school days.
“Honestly, this is a good idea because you’ll often see Japanese school kids directly touch water basin faucets with their mouth.”
“I wish these were installed nationwide for kids.”
“I think this is a super great project, but wouldn’t it make more sense to stop outdoor club activities in this hellish weather?”
“Wow, I wish I had this since I always bought water after school.”
“I’m feeling a little envious. When I was at that age, I was celebrating because we got fans in the classrooms.”
The extra vending machines will be available at the fourteen schools until the end of September.
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