Stracener graduated in 1948 from Bolton High School in his native Alexandria in central Louisiana. He received both his undergraduate and medical degrees from Louisiana State University in Baton Rouge. He was commissioned into the United States Army, having attained the rank of colonel. He practiced primarily at Walter Reed Medical Center in Washington, D.C., Brooke Army Medical Center at Fort Sam Houston in San Antonio, Texas, and Madigan Army Medical Center outside Tacoma, Washington. Stracener was assigned to the 4th Infantry Division in the Vietnam War, where he instituted programs to aid the native Vietnamese people. In 1975, as the war ended in communist triumph, Stracener directed Operation Babylift, which spared many children from disease and death. He received the Legion of Merit and the Distinguished Service medals.
Stracener practiced medicine for forty-four years, including thirty-two at the pediatrics department of Madigan AMC. Stracener lived for many years in Steilacoom in Pierce County in western Washington, where he sometimes even made free house calls. His principal work was concentrated in the fields of children's health, the prevention of childhood poisonings, and the education of childcare professionals. Child-resistant packaging stemmed from passage of the Poison Prevention Packaging Act of 1970, authored by U.S. Senator Frank E. Moss of Utah, legislation designed to halt young children from accidentally ingesting hazardous substances stored about the house. The law requires toxic, corrosive, or irritative substances to be packaged so that adults can easily open them, but not children under five years of age. The first product so protected, effective August 8, 1972, was aspirin. Stracener also conducted research for the later required child safety seats.
Stracener, who was also an active photographer, died at the age of eighty. Survivors include his third wife, Anne-Birgitte Stracener of Steilacoom; a brother James Curtis Stracener; children Karen, Janice, Ed, and Becky; stepchildren, Astrid and Erik, and eight grandchildren. He was preceded in death by his previous wives, Betty Ratcliff of Pineville, Louisiana, and Jan Marie Schnaible, and a sister Audrey Stracener Jones. A memorial service was held on September 25, 2011, at Oakwood Funeral Home in Tacoma, Washington.
- Robert G. Scherz, George H. Latham, and Carl E. Stracener, "Child-Resistant Containers Can Prevent Poisoning". Retrieved on February 25, 2012.
- Col. Carl Stracener obituary. Alexandria (Louisiana) Daily Town Talk. Retrieved on September 25, 2011.
- Poisoning Interventions: Child-Resistant Packing and the Poison Prevention Packaging Act. depts.washington.edu. Retrieved on February 25, 2012.