If you can't shake the mental picture of a small "fire kernel" popping from your open fireplace and landing on the carpet, you are no worry wart; you are a realist. This is one of the primary reasons it's advisable to always put out a fire before you go to bed at night or leave your home. Extinguishing a fire can take some time; it's not like turning off a stove. So prepare to take your time so that you can sleep easily -- and safely.
Grab your fireplace poker and gently spread out the wood and embers. A flattened mound will help cool the fire.
Scoop up the ash at the bottom of your fireplace with your fireplace shovel. Place it over the cooling wood and embers. Repeat this process slowly and deliberately until the fire is extinguished.
Douse the wood and embers with a layer of baking soda, which contains sodium bicarbonate. This is the same ingredient contained in some Class C fire extinguishers. Some people use sand as a layering agent, but sand can create a mess in a fireplace. Wait a few minutes to ensure that the fire has indeed gone out and will not reignite.
Wait until the next morning -- or at least several hours -- before removing the ashes from the fireplaces. Scoop up the cooled ashes and place them in a metal ash container. Store it in a a safe place outside your home, away from combustible sources.