BRISTOL, Va. -

Many of us are heading outdoors to enjoy the wilderness this time of year, but it never hurts to be reminded of hidden dangers.

Local park rangers are reminding everyone to be on the lookout for things that can be harmful. Officials say to protect against harmful plants such as poison ivy, a small outdoor first aid kit with wipes is an essential piece of gear, along with any preventative medications like prescribed epinephrine for those with allergies to things like bee stings.

Steele Creek Park Nature Center Manager Jeremy Stout says the best way to stay safe is to be informed before you head outdoors. "It is actual wilderness, we have real woods out there with actual poisonous plants and actual venomous animals," he said. "They are crawling around, flying around, almost anywhere you can look if you know where to look."

Poison ivy plants are out much earlier this year because of the recent warm weather. Officials say the best treatment for poison ivy exposure is to wash the affected area immediately to remove the plant's oil.